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UNIVERSITY  OF  TORONTO 


DIV4SWDN 

CIRCULATING 
LIBRARY 


Library   of  The  World's   Best 
MYSTERY  and  DETECTIVE  STORIES 


H 


Pointed  in  Wild  Frenzy  to  the  One  Sitting  Above" 


Drawing    by    Power    O'Malley.     To    illustrate 
"  The  Man  on  the  Bottle,"  by  Gustave  Meyrink 


Library  of 
The  World's   Best 

MYSTERY    AND 

DETECTIVE 

STORIES 

-V.  5. 

EDITED  BY 

JULIAN    HAWTHORNE 


GERMAN  ::  RUSSIAN  ::  SCANDINAVIAN 

GUSTAV  MEYRINK  DIETRI! 

PAUL  HEYSE  WILHPLM.  HAUFF 

ERNEST  HOFFMANN  ANTOW  CHEKHOFI- 

VSEVOLOD  KRESTOVSKI  JORGEN  BERGSOE 

OTTO  LARSSEN  BERNHARD  INGEMANN 

STEEN  STEENSEN  BLICHER 


505470 

IS  .  2>.S 

New  York 

The  Review  of  Reviews  Company 
1908 


Copyright,  1907,  by 
THE  REVIEW  OF  REVIEWS  COMPANY 


PA/ 


cv 


THE  TROW  PRESS,  NEW  YORK 


Table  of  Contents 


GUSTAV  MEYRINK  (1868 — ). 

The  Man  on  the  Bottle 9 

DIETRICH  THEDEN 

Christian  Lahusen's  Baron 16 

PAUL  HEYSE  (1830 — ). 

"  Andrea  Delfin" 36 

WILHELM  HAUFF  (1802-27). 

The  Singer 83 

ERNEST  THEODOR  AMADEUS  HOFFMANN  (1776-1822). 
\  The  Deserted  House 131 

ANTON  CHEKHOFF  (1860-1904). 

The  Safety  Match 157 

VSEVOLOD  VLADIMIROVITCH  KRESTOVSKI  (1840-1895). 

Knights  of  Industry 180 

JORGEN  WILHELM  BERGSOE  (1835 — ). 
X   The  Amputated  Arms 242 

OTTO  LARSSEN. 

The  Manuscript 260 

BERNHARD  SEVERIN  INGEMANN  (1789-1862). 

The  Sealed  Room 271 

STEEN  STEENSEN  BLICHER  (1782-1848). 

The  Rector  of  Veilbye 278 


German-Russian-Scandinavian 
Mystery  Stories 


Gustav  Meyrink 
The  Man  on  the  Bottle 

]y[  ELANCHTHON  was  dancing  with  the  Bat,  whose 
costume  represented  her  in  an  inverted  position. 
The  wings  were  folded  close  to  the  body,  and  in  the  claws 
she  held  a  large  gold  hoop  upright,  which  gave  the  impres- 
sion that  she  was  hanging,  suspended  from  some  imaginary 
point.  The  effect  was  grotesque,  and  it  amused  Melanch- 
thon  very  much,  for  he  had  to  peep  through  this  gold  hoop, 
which  was  exactly  on  a  level  with  his  face,  while  dancing 
with  the  Bat. 

She  was  one  of  the  most  original  masks — and  at  the 
same  time  one  of  the  most  repelling  ones — at  the  fete  of 
the  Persian  prince.  She  had  even  impressed  his  highness, 
Mohammed  Darasche-Koh,  the  host. 

"  I  know  you,  pretty  one,"  he  had  nodded  to  her,  much 
to  the  amusement  of  the  bystanders. 

"  It  is  certainly  the  little  marquise,  the  intimate  friend  of 
the  princess,"  declared  a  Dutch  councilor  in  a  Rembrandt 
costume.  He  surmised  this  because  she  knew  every  turn 
and  corner  of  the  palace,  to  judge  by  her  conversation. 
And  but  a  few  moments  ago,  when  some  cavalier  had  or- 
dered felt  boots  and  torches  so  that  they  might  go  down 
into  the  courtyard  and  indulge  in  snowballing,  the  Bat 
joined  them  and  participated  wildly  in  the  game.  It  was 
then — and  the  Dutchman  was  quite  ready  to  back  it  with 

9 


German  Mystery  Stories 

a  wager — that  he  had  seen  a  well-known  bracelet  on  her 
wrist. 

"  Oh,  how  interesting,"  exclaimed  a  Blue  Butterfly. 
"  Couldn't  Melanchthon  discreetly  discover  whether  or  not 
Count  Faast  is  a  slave  of  the  princess  ?  " 

"  Don't  speak  so  loud,"  interrupted  the  Dutch  councilor. 
"  It  is  a  mighty  good  thing  that  the  orchestra  played  the 
close  of  that  waltz  fortissimo,  for  the  prince  was  standing 
here  only  a  moment  since." 

"  Better  not  speak  of  such  things,"  whispered  an  Egyp- 
tian, "  for  the  jealousy  of  this  Asiatic  prince  knows  no 
bounds,  and  there  are  probably  more  explosives  in  the  pal- 
ace than  we  dream.  Count  de  Faast  has  been  playing  with 
fire  too  long,  and  if  Darasche-Koh  suspects " 

A  rough  figure  representing  a  huge  knot  dashed  by  them 
in  wild  flight  to  escape  a  Hellenic  warrior  in  shimmering 
armor. 

"  If  you  were  the  Gordian  knot,  Mynherr,  and  were  pur- 
sued by  Alexander  the  Great,  wouldn't  you  be  frightened?  " 
teased  the  inverted  Bat,  tapping  the  Dutchman  coquettishly 
on  the  end  of  the  nose  with  her  fan. 

"  The  sharp  wit  of  the  pretty  Marquise  Bat  betrays  her," 
smiled  a  lanky  Satan  with  tail  and  cloven  foot.  "  What  a 
pity  that  only  as  a  Bat  are  you  to  be  seen  with  your  feet 
in  the  air." 

The  dull  sound  of  a  gong  filled  the  room  as  an  execu- 
tioner appeared,  draped  in  a  crimson  robe.  He  tapped  a 
bronze  gong,  and  then,  resting  his  weight  on  his  glittering 
cudgel,  posed  himself  in  the  center  of  the  big  hall. 

Out  of  every  niche  and  lobby  the  maskers  streamed 
toward  him — harlequins,  cannibals,  an  ibis,  and  some  Chi- 
nese, Don  Quixotes,  Columbines,  bayaderes  and  dominoes 
of  all  colors. 

The  crimson  executioner  distributed  tablets  of  ivory  in- 
scribed with  gold  letters. 

"  Oh,  programmes  for  the  entertainment !  "  chorused  the 
crowd. 

10 


Gustav  Meyrink 

THE  MAN   IN  THE   BOTTLE 

Marionette  Comedy  in  the  Spirit  of  Aubrey  Beardsley 
By  PRINCE  MOHAMMED  DARASCHE-KOH 

CHARACTERS: 

THE  MAN  IN  THE  BOTTLE Miguel,  Count deFaast 

THE  MAN  ON  THE  BOTTLE Prince  Mohammed  Darasche-Koh 

THE  LADY  IN  THE  SEDAN  CHAIR 

VAMPIRES,  MARIONETTES,  HUNCHBACKS,  APES,  MUSICIANS 
Scene  of  Action:     A  Tiger's  Maw 

"  What !    The  prince  the  author  of  this  marionette  play  ?  " 

"  Probably  a  scene  out  of  the  '  Thousand  and  One 
Nights.'  " 

"  But  who  will  play  the  part  of  the  Lady  in  the  Sedan 
Chair?" 

"  Oh,  there  is  a  great  surprise  in  store  for  us,"  twittered 
a  seductive  Incroyable,  leaning  on  the  arm  of  an  Abbe. 
"  Do  you  know,  the  Pierrot  with  whom  I  danced  the  taran- 
telle  was  the  Count  de  Faast,  who  is  going  to  play  The 
Man  in  the  Bottle ;  and  he  confided  a  lot  of  things  to  me : 
the  marionettes  will  be  very  grewsome — that  is,  for  those 
who  appreciate  the  spirit  of  the  thing — and  the  prince  had 
an  elephant  sent  down  from  Hamburg — but  you  are  not 
listening  to  me  at  all !  "  And  the  little  one  dropped  the 
arm  of  her  escort  and  bolted  into  the  swirling  crowd. 

New  groups  of  masks  constantly  poured  out  of  the  ad- 
joining rooms  through  the  wide  doorways  into  the  big  hall, 
making  a  kaleidoscopic  play  of  colors,  while  files  of  cos- 
tumed guests  stood  admiring  the  wonderful  mural  frescoes 
that  rose  to  the  blue,  star-dotted  ceiling.  Attendants  served 
refreshments,  sorbets  and  wines  in  the  window  niches. 

With  a  rolling  sound  the  walls  of  the  narrow  end  of  the 
hall  separated  and  a  stage  was  pushed  slowly  into  view. 
Its  setting,  in  red  brown  and  a  flaming  yellow  proscenium, 

ii 


German  Mystery  Stories 

was  a  yawning  tiger's  maw,  the  white  teeth  glittering  above 
and  below. 

In  the  middle  of  the  scene  stood  a  huge  glass  bottle 
in  the  form  of  a  globe,  with  walls  at  least  a  foot  thick.  It 
was  about  twice  the  height  of  an  average  man  and  very 
roomy.  The  back  of  the  scene  was  draped  with  pink  silk 
hangings. 

Then  the  colossal  ebony  doors  of  the  hall  opened  and  ad- 
mitted a  richly  caparisoned  elephant,  which  advanced  with 
majestic  tread.  On  its  head  sat  the  crimson  executioner 
guiding  the  beast  with  the  butt  of  his  cudgel.  Chains  of 
amethysts  dangled  from  the  elephant's  tusks,  and  plumes  of 
peacock  feathers  nodded  from  its  head.  Heavily  embroi- 
dered gold  cloths  streamed  down  from  the  back  of  the 
beast,  skirting  the  floor ;  across  its  enormous  forehead  there 
was  a  network  of  sparkling  jewels. 

The  maskers  flocked  around  the  advancing  beast,  shout- 
ing greetings  to  the  gay  group  of  actors  seated  in  the  palan- 
quin ;  Prince  Darasche-Koh  with  turban  and  aigrette,  Count 
de  Faast  as  Pierrot,  marionettes  and  musicians,  stiff  as 
wooden  puppets.  The  elephant  reached  the  stage,  and  with 
its  trunk  lifted  one  man  after  another  from  its  back.  There 
was  much  applause  and  a  yell  of  delight  as  the  beast  seized 
the  Pierrot  and  sliding  him  into  the  neck  of  the  bottle, 
closed  the  metal  top.  Then  the  Persian  prince  was  placed 
on  top  of  the  bottle. 

The  musicians  seated  themselves  in  a  semicircle,  drawing 
forth  strange,  slender  instruments.  The  elephant  gazed  at 
them  a  moment,  then  turned  about  and  strode  toward  the 
door.  Like  a  lot  of  happy  children  the  maskers  clung  to 
its  trunk,  ears,  and  tusks  and  tried  to  hold  it  back;  but 
the  animal  seemed  not  to  feel  their  weight  at  all. 

The  performance  began,  and  somewhere,  as  if  out  of  the 
ground,  there  arose  weird  music.  The  puppet  orchestra 
of  marionettes  remained  lifeless  and  waxen ;  the  flute  player 
stared  with  glassy,  idiotic  eyes  at  the  ceiling;  the  features 
of  the  rococo  conductor  in  peruke  and  plumed  hat,  holding 
the  baton  aloft  and  pressing  a  pointed  finger  mysteriously 

12 


Gustav  Mcyrink 

to  his  lips,  were  distorted  by  a  shrewd,  uncanny  smile.  In 
the  foreground  posed  the  marionettes.  Here  were  grouped 
a  humpbacked  dwarf  with  chalky  face,  a  gray,  grinning 
devil,  and  a  sallow,  rouged  actress  with  carmine  lips.  The 
three  seemed  possessed  of  some  satanic  secret  that  had 
paralyzed  their  movements.  The  semblance  of  death 
brooded  over  the  entire  motionless  group. 

The  Pierrot  in  the  bottle  now  began  to  move  restlessly. 
He  doffed  his  white  felt  hat,  bowed  and  occasionally  greeted 
the  Persian  prince,  who  with  crossed  legs  sat  on  the  cap 
of  the  bottle.  His  antics  amused  the  audience.  The  thick 
walls  of  glass  distorted  his  appearance  curiously ;  sometimes 
his  eyes  seemed  to  pop  out  of  his  head;  then  again  they 
disappeared,  and  one  saw  only  forehead  and  chin;  some- 
times he  was  fat  and  bloated,  then  again  slender,  with  long 
legs  like  a  spider's. 

In  the  midst  of  a  motionless  pause  the  red  silk  hangings 
of  the  background  parted,  and  a  closed  sedan  chair  was 
carried  on  by  two  Moors,  who  placed  it  near  the  bottle. 
A  ray  of  pale  light  from  above  now  illuminated  the  scene. 
The  spectators  had  formed  themselves  into  two  camps. 
The  one  was  speechless  under  the  spell  of  this  vampiric, 
enigmatic  marionette  play  that  seemed  to  exhale  an  atmos- 
phere of  poisoned  merriment;  the  other  group,  not  sensi- 
tive enough  to  appreciate  such  a  scene,  laughed  immoder- 
ately at  the  comical  capering  of  the  man  in  the  bottle. .  He 
had  given  up  his  merry  dancing  and  was  trying  by  every 
possible  means  to  impart  some  information  or  other  to  the 
prince  sitting  on  the  cap.  He  pounded  the  walls  of  the 
bottle  as  though  he  would  smash  them;  and  to  all  appear- 
ances he  was  screaming  at  the  top  of  his  voice,  although 
not  the  slightest  sound  penetrated  the  thick  glass. 

The  Persian  prince  acknowledged  the  movements  of  the 
Pierrot  with  a  smile,  pointing  with  his  finger  at  the  sedan 
chair. 

The  curiosity  of  the  audience  reached  its  climax  when 
it  saw  that  the  Pierrot  had  pressed  his  face  against  the  glass 
and  was  staring  at  something  in  the  window  of  the  sedan 

13 


German  Mystery  Stories 

chair.  Then  suddenly,  like  one  gone  mad,  he  beat  his  face 
with  his  hands,  sank  on  his  knees  and  tore  his  hair.  Then 
he  sprang  furiously  up  and  raced  around  the  bottle  at  such 
speed  that  the  audience  saw  only  a  fluttering  cloth  in  his 
wake. 

The  secret  of  the  Lady  in  the  Sedan  Chair  puzzled  the 
audience  considerably — they  could  only  see  that  a  white  face 
was  pressed  against  the  window  of  the  chair  and  was  star- 
ing over  at  the  bottle.  Shadows  cut  off  all  further  view. 

Laughter  and  applause  rose  to  a  tumult.  Pierrot  had 
crouched  on  the  bottom  of  the  bottle,  his  fingers  clutching 
his  throat.  Then  he  opened  his  mouth  wide  and  pointed 
in  wild  frenzy  to  his  chest  and  then  to  the  one  sitting  above. 
He  folded  his  hands  in  supplication,  as  though  he  were 
begging  something  from  the  audience. 

"  He  wants  something  to  drink !  Such  a  large  bottle 
and  no  wine  in  it?  I  say,  you  marionettes,  give  him  a 
drink,"  cried  one  of  the  maskers. 

Everybody  laughed  and  applauded. 

Then  the  Pierrot  jumped  up  once  more,  tore  his  garments 
from  his  chest  and  staggered  about  until  he  measured  his 
length  on  the  bottom  of  the  bottle. 

"  Bravo,  bravo,  Pierrot !  Wonderfully  acted  I  Da  capo, 
da  capo!"  yelled  the  maskers. 

When  the  man  in  the  bottle  did  not  stir  again  and  made 
no  effort  to  repeat  his  scene,  the  applause  gradually  •  sub- 
sided and  the  attention  of  the  spectators  was  drawn  to  the 
marionettes.  They  still  remained  motionless  in  the  poses 
they  had  assumed,  but  in  their  miens  there  was  now  a  sense 
of  expectancy  that  had  not  been  there  before.  It  seemed 
as  if  they  were  waiting  for  a  cue. 

The  humpbacked  dwarf,  with  the  chalked  face,  turned  his 
eyes  carefully  and  gazed  at  the  Prince  Darasche-Koh.  The 
Persian  did  not  stir. 

Finally  two  figures  advanced  from  the  background,  and 
one  of  the  Moors  haltingly  approached  the  sedan  chair  and 
opened  the  door. 

And  then  something  very  remarkable  occurred — the  body 

14 


Gustav  Mcyrink 

of  a  woman  fell  stiffly  out  on  the  stage.  There  was  a  mo- 
ment of  deathly  silence  and  then  a  thousand  voices  arose: 
"What  has  happened?" 

Marionettes,  apes,  musicians — all  leaped  forward;  mask- 
ers climbed  up  on  the  stage. 

The  princess,  wife  of  Darasche-Koh,  lay  there  strapped 
to  a  steel  frame.  Where  the  ropes  had  cut  into  her  flesh 
were  blue  bruises,  and  in  her  mouth  there  was  a  silk  gag. 

A  nameless  horror  took  possession  of  the  audience. 

"  Pierrot !  "  a  voice  suddenly  shrilled.  "  Pierrot !  "  Like 
a  dagger,  indescribable  fear  penetrated  every  heart. 

"Where  is  the  prince?" 

During  the  tumult  the  Persian  had  disappeared. 

Melanchthon  stood  on  the  shoulders  of  Mephisto,  but  he 
could  not  lift  the  cap  of  the  bottle,  and  the  air  valve  was 
screwed  tightly  shut. 

"  Break  the  walls  of  the  bottle !    Quick !  " 

The  Dutch  councilor  tore  the  cudgel  from  the  hand  of 
the  crimson  executioner  and  with  a  leap  landed  on  the 
stage. 

A  grewsome  sound  arose,  like  the  tolling  of  a  cracked 
bell.  Like  streaks  of  white  lightning  the  cracks  leaped 
across  the  surface  of  the  glass.  Finally  the  bottle  was  splin- 
tered into  bits.  And  within  lay,  suffocated,  the  corpse  of 
the  Count  de  Faast,  his  fingers  clawing  his  breast. 

Silently  and  with  invisible  pinions  the  gigantic  ebon  birds 
of  terror  streaked  through  the  hall  of  the  fete. 


Dietrich  Theden 
Christian  Lahusen's  Baron 

T?ROM  the  beginning  the  villagers  said  that  there  was 
something  queer  about  the  Baron,  "  Farmer  Chris- 
tian's Baron,"  as  they  called  him.  Of  course,  even  the 
most  inveterate  gossips  of  the  neighborhood  didn't  expect 
things  to  turn  out  just  as  they  did.  But  the  gossips  enjoyed 
themselves  because  of  the  outcome,  which  enlivened  many 
a  long  winter  evening  for  them.  They  were  sorry  for  Chris- 
tian, of  course,  but  they  said  it  did  him  good.  And  then 
he  was  a  rich  man,  and  could  stand  a  lesson  even  if  it  did 
cost  him  quite  a  pretty  sum. 

Christian  Lahusen,  owner  of  the  Sea  Inn,  was  a  man 
whose  carriage  and  bearing,  one  might  say  his  whole  atti- 
tude toward  life,  showed  that  his  bank  account  was  of  a 
satisfactory  heaviness,  and  that  his  land  was  good  land 
which  repaid  his  labor  and  his  confidence. 

The  Lake  Inn  farm  belonged  to  the  wealthy  village  of 
Briigghofen,  near  Kiel.  The  farm  itself  was  of  consider- 
able size,  with  good  rich  loam  and  a  fine  beach  wood  sur- 
rounding a  pretty  little  lake  from  which  the  inn  took  its 
name.  Agriculture  and  the  fishing  in  the  lake  were  not  the 
only  occupation  of  the  owner  of  the  farm.  His  many-sided 
energy  allowed  him  to  give  sufficient  attention  to  an  eating 
and  drinking  establishment  in  one  wing  of  this  house,  and 
not  to  neglect  over  it  a  general  store  at  the  opposite  end 
of  the  large  building.  Besides  the  favorite  lager  beer  which 
he  ordered  from  Kiel,  he  brewed  a  beer  on  his  own  grounds 
which  was  eagerly  consumed  by  all  the  neighborhood,  and 
also  sold  in  considerable  quantities  to  other  inns  in  the 
vicinity.  A  large  metal  shield  with  golden  letters  on  a 
black  ground  told  all  who  might  be  interested  that  Chris- 

16 


Dietrich  Theden 

tian  was  also  the  general  agent  of  a  large  fire  insurance 
company,  and  his  customers  comprised  almost  the  entire 
landed  population  of  the  district.  But  more  important  than 
any  of  these  was  his  wholesale  fruit  trade,  which  made  his 
name  known  far  beyond  the  boundaries  of  his  own  county. 
Christian  Lahusen  was  the  first  farmer  who  had  utilized  the 
railroad  for  the  service  of  his  business.  He  bought  up  the 
entire  fruit  output  for  many  square  miles  and  sent  whole 
carloads  to  Kiel  and  Hamburg.  The  fruit  growers  of  the 
neighborhood,  even  the  owners  of  the  large  baronial  es- 
tates, brought  all  their  produce  to  Christian,  and  he  num- 
bered the  largest  shops  of  the  cities  among  his  customers. 

All  this  naturally  made  Christian  a  marked  man  among 
his  fellows,  and  a  man  universally  respected  for  his  energy 
and  his  success.  But,  like  everyone  else,  he  had  his  fail- 
ings. One  particular  little  fancy  of  his  was  the  cause  of 
great  amusement  to  the  entire  neighborhood, — of  amuse- 
ment that  turned  to  distrust  and  led  to  many  a  well-meant 
warning.  But  these  warnings  passed  all  unheeded,  and 
Christian  brought  his  trouble  upon  himself. 

The  owner  of  the  Lake  Inn  farm  had  two  daughters, 
and  he  had  great  hopes  and  schemes  for  them.  The  young- 
est, Marie,  was  still  only  fourteen  years  old,  and  was  a 
pupil  in  a  leading  boarding  school  in  Kiel.  From  this 
school  the  elder  sister,  Dorothea,  had  just  returned  as  a 
maiden  of  seventeen.  For  a  few  weeks  before  this  story 
opens,  Dorothea  had  been  visiting  her  sister  in  Kiel,  and 
had  made  an  aristocratic  acquaintance  who  is  the  hero  of 
this  serio-comic  tale.  This  gentleman  had  evidently  become 
so  interested  in  Dorothea  that  he  followed  her  home  and 
took  a  room  at  the  inn  for  an  indefinite  length  of  time. 
Christian  Lahusen  introduced  him  to  the  daily  guests  as 
Baron  Herbert  von  Waregg,  pronouncing  the  name  as  if  it 
gave  him  the  greatest  pleasure.  The  Baron  was  polite  enough 
whenever  he  would  condescend  to  depart  from  his  usual 
elegant  reserve  and  make  the  acquaintance  of  the  peasants 
of  the  neighborhood.  But'  somehow,  the  villagers  did  not 
seem  to  take  to  the  Baron,  and  they  laughed  at  Christian 

17 


German  Mystery  Stories 

for  his  folly,  the  best  natured  of  them  saying  tfiat  they  hoped 
at  least  that  his  fancy  for  the  aristocracy  would  not  cost 
him  all  too  dear.  They  did  not  know  quite  how  well  justi- 
fied their  distrust  turned  out  to  be. 

The  Baron  had  a  large  amount  of  baggage  with  him  and 
dressed  in  the  latest  style.  He  wore  easy  morning  clothes 
of  the  most  fashionable  cut  during  the  week,  and  honored 
the  Sunday  by  shining  patent-leather  boots,  pale-gray 
trousers,  a  long  black  frock  coat  and  a  most  carefully 
brushed  silk  hat,  which  he  wore  just  a  little  over  one  eye. 
When  he  walked  through  the  village  streets  or  on  the 
shores  of  the  lake  in  all  this  elegance,  he  was  the  cause  of 
great  excitement  among  the  small  boys  of  the  neighbor- 
hood. The  village  girls  appeared  to  look  upon  him  with 
favor,  which  naturally  increased  the  dislike  of  the  men  of 
the  neighborhood. 

The  tall  hat  made  the  Baron  look  even  longer  than  he 
was,  and  lengthened  his  narrow  face  in  a  rather  disadvan- 
tageous manner.  His  guest's  height  would  make  even 
Lahusen  smile,  when  the  former  was  obliged  to  bow  his 
head  considerably  to  pass  in  under  the  somewhat  low  door 
of  the  inn.  "  I'll  have  to  send  for  the  carpenter  to  raise  the 
top  of  that  door,"  laughed  the  landlord.  But  his  peasant 
friends  told  him  that  they  didn't  think  it  was  necessary. 
"  It  won't  hurt  the  Baron — or  whatever  he  may  be — to 
have  to  make  a  bow  to  a  decent  farmer  occasionally,"  said 
one  of  them. 

"  It  is  not  so  much  his  height  I'm  worrying  about,"  said 
another.  "  He  can  carry  it  all,  for  he  stands  up  as  stiff  as 
a  ramrod.  But  it's  his  face  I  don't  like.  I  can't  say  what 
it  is,  but  there's  something  in  it  that  makes  me  think  I 
wouldn't  trust  the  man." 

"What's  in  it?"  said  the  third.  "Why,  nothing  but  a 
nose  like  a  hawk  and  eyes  like  a  cat " 

Christian  Lahusen  rattled  the  glasses  at  his  bar  in  a 
noticeable  way,  as  a  delicate  hint  that  he  did  not  like  the 
conversation. 

1*8 


Dietrich  Theden 

The  peasants  were  not  so  far  out  of  the  way  with  their 
description  of  "  hawk's  nose  and  cat's  eyes."  But  in  spite 
of  this,  the  Baron's  face  was  not  altogether  unpleasing,  and 
was  certainly  not  uninteresting.  It  would  light  up  well 
when  he  was  talking  to  his  landlord,  and  he  could  then 
show  an  amiability  which  quite  charmed  the  farmer,  and 
make  him  think  that  the  distrust  shown  by  his  friends  in 
the  village  sprang  from  their  lack  of  understanding  a  gen- 
tleman of  the  great  world.  He  paid  no  further  attention 
to  their  remarks,  but  merely  shrugged  his  shoulders.  One 
thing  did  worry  him,  however,  and  that  was  his  daughter's 
attitude  toward  the  Baron. 

Dorothea  Lahusen  was  a  typical  Holstein  girl  in  appear- 
ance ;  above  middle  height,  slender  but  well  developed, 
bloomingly  healthy,  with  rich  blond  hair  and  clear  frank 
blue  eyes.  Her  character  also  showed  all  the  good  quali- 
ties of  her  countrywomen.  She  was  capable  and  energetic, 
efficient  in  the  ordering  of  her  house,  neat  and  tidy,  straight- 
forward and  honest  in  her  loyal  devotion  to  her  family  and 
in  her  reserve  toward  strangers.  Her  boarding-school  edu- 
cation in  the  city  had  given  her  somewhat  easier  manners 
than  those  of  country  girls  generally.  It  had  awakened  her 
intelligence  and  raised  her  from  the  plane  of  her  friends 
at  home,  thus  seeming  to  heighten  her  reserve  toward  them, 
and  to  give  to  her  attitude  toward  the  Baron  the  politeness 
of  maidenly  modesty.  She  had  met  the  gentleman  at  the. 
house  of  a  friend  in  the  city,  and  at  the  various  parties  and 
excursions  that  had  brought  them  together,  he  had  notice- 
ably shown  his  preference  for  her.  His  attentions  had  flat- 
tered her,  although  she  did  not  feel  herself  drawn  toward 
him  in  the  slightest.  She  had  accepted  the  bouquet  which 
he  brought  to  the  train  on  her  departure  simply  to  show 
her  gratitude  for  his  preference.  But  she  had  been  much 
astonished  when  he  appeared  at  the  inn  and  engaged  a  room 
for  a  prolonged  stay. 

Several  months  had  passed  and  Waregg  was  still  there. 
He  had  entirely  won  the  father's  confidence,  and  went  in 
and  out  as  if  he  were  a  member  of  the  family.  But  he  did 

19 


German  Mystery  Stories 

not  seem  to  have  made  any  advance  in  Dorothea's  favor. 
The  girl  talked  to  him  as  to  anyone  else  at  the  table,  but 
she  evidently  avoided  being  alone  with  him.  She  could  not 
have  explained  what  it  was  that  warned  her  to  be  cautious 
and  not  to  encourage  his  suit.  Nor  could  she  have  told 
what  it  was  that  affected  her  unpleasantly,  when  he  would 
wander  into  the  store  in  the  busy  early  evening  hours  to 
help  her  father  and  to  chat  with  the  customers. 

"  Looking  for  change  ? "  he  asked  once,  as  Dorothea 
could  not  seem  to  find  the  money  she  looked  for,  and  was 
about  to  send  out  the  errand  boy.  "  Please  permit  me." 
Waregg  brought  out  a  handful  of  change  from  his  pocket, 
counted  it  out,  and  said,  laughing, "  Don't  you  want  to  make 
me  your  banker?  I  won't  ask  any  commission." 

The  next  evening  he  was  there  again.  The  store  was 
full,  and  Lahusen  as  well  as  his  daughter  had  as  much  as 
they  could  do. 

"  Want  some  help  ?  "  asked  the  Baron  amiably.  "  I'm  a 
trained  cashier ;  can't  I  help  you  a  little,  my  dear  friend  ?  " 

Christian  Lahusen  was  very  glad  of  the  assistance,  and 
gave  the  Baron  the  entire  charge  of  the  cash,  turning  the 
money  over  to  him  with  simply  a  mention  of  the  sum  to 
be  returned,  and  then  going  right  on  to  the  next  customer 
himself.  Dorothea  did  not  like  this,  but  she  did  not  want 
to  show  her  distrust  and  so  followed  her  father's  example. 
The  Baron  was  quick  and  adept  at  his  work,  said  laugh- 
ingly that  he  was  glad  he  was  of  some  use  in  the  world, 
and  remained  in  the  store  as  long  as  they  did.  His  daily 
assistance  came  to  be  a  matter  of  habit.  There  was  but  one 
disadvantage,  if  one  can  call  it  that,  about  this  new  ar- 
rangement. The  women  customers,  finding  that  the  Baron 
was  there  every  evening,  appeared  to  prefer  those  hours 
for  their  errands,  and  the  room  was  often  so  crowded  that 
it  was  impossible  to  move  sometimes.  Waregg  appeared 
much  amused  at  this,  and  exchanged  jokes  with  his  land- 
lord about  it 

Punctually  every  Saturday  evening  the  Baron  paid  his 
weekly  bill.  This  was  not  a  very  large  one,  and  was  in- 

20 


Dietrich  Theden 

creased  only  on  the  rare  occasions  when  the  Baron  allowed 
himself  a  good  bottle  of  wine. 

"  He  must  have  some  money,"  acknowledged  even  Detlev 
Bruhn,  who  had  been  the  first  and  worst  to  talk  against  the 
Baron. 

"He?  He  has  more  money  than  you  and  I  together, 
Detlev,"  declared  Lahusen. 

"  Has  he  spoken  to  you  about  his  affairs  ?  "  asked  the 
other. 

"  Why,  of  course." 

"  What  part  of  the  country  does  he  come  from  ?  " 

"  From  Austria,  if  you  must  know." 

"Oh! — and  what  is  his  father?" 

"  His  father — his  father  is  a  bank  president,  and  has  a 
big  estate  besides.  He  showed  me  a  picture  of  the  castle — 
it's  fine,  I  tell  you." 

"  Has  he  got  the  picture  with  him  ?  " 

"  Yes— that  is,  he  sent  for  it." 

"  Hm !    Has  he  sent  for  money,  much  ?  " 

"  For  these  few  months  ?  A  man  like  that  doesn't  go. 
round  with  a  few  groschen  in  his  pocket.  Besides,  he 
doesn't  need  much  here.  He'd  use  more  in  one  week  in 
the  city  than  he  would  here  in  four  months.  Why,  he's 
saving  money  now !  " 

"Will  he — will  he  stay  much  longer?"  asked  Detlev. 

This  was  his  way  of  avoiding  the  direct  question  which 
the  entire  village  was  asking  itself,  "  Will  he  ask  for  your 
daughter's  hand?" 

"  We'll  see  soon,  I  suppose,"  answered  Lahusen  eva- 
sively. 

"  He — hasn't  got  a  profession,  I  suppose  ?  "  continued 
Bruhn. 

"  He  studied  at  college — the  law,  I  think.  In  Vienna 
and  Berlin.  People  like  that,  Detlev,  can  arrange  their 
vacation  just  as  they  like.  They  don't  need  to  earn  money, 
'cause  they  have  more  than  they  can  spend,  anyway." 

"  Twould  make  me  lazy — I'd  want  something  to  do." 

"  Yes,  you  might,  Detlev.    And  I  would,  too,  but  there's 

21 


German  Mystery  Stories 

all  sorts  of  people  in  this  world.  And,  besides,  he  isn't  quite 
lazy  even  here.  In  the  store  evenings,  for  instance,  he  takes 
entire  charge  of  the  money.  You  ought  to  see  how  he  can 
work." 

"  Indeed  ?  "  asked  Detlev  Bruhn,  with  a  long-drawn  tone. 

Lahusen  poured  out  a  fresh  glass  of  beer.  "  Prost,  Det- 
lev !  " 

"  Prost,  Christian !  you  made  a  good  thing  out  of  this 
year's  plums,  didn't  you  ?  " 

"  I'm  satisfied." 

Toward  the  end  of  September  Waregg  went  to  Kiel  for 
a  day,  returning  in  time  to  help  Lahusen  with  his  account- 
ing after  the  close  of  the  apple  trade.  Combined  with  the 
payment  for  a  large  order  from  a  big  Hamburg  house,  the 
amounts  that  came  in  reached  a  considerable  height. 

"  Don't  you  think  we'll  make  up  that  last  twenty  thou- 
sand? "  joked  the  Baron.  "  I  really  shouldn't  have  thought 
that  a  few  carloads  of  apples " 

Lahusen  interrupted  with  a  laugh.  "  Would  run  up  such 
a  capital,  hey  ?  Well,  I  suppose  you  have  different  sums  to 
calculate  with  than  we  do." 

"  Yes,  at  least  my  old  man  does.  He  strings  on  a  few 
ciphers  on  general  principles  before  he  begins  to  add  up. 
But  as  far  as  I'm  concerned,  I  respect  the  smallest  sum 
when  I  see  it's  honestly  worked  for.  But  your  business  is 
worthy  of  respect  anyway.  This  Hamburg  firm,  for  in- 
stance— let  me  see — it's  No.  60  or  70  Graskeller,  isn't  it  ? — 
yes,  Heinrich  Kruse,  that's  the  name  on  the  draft.  Are  they 
-secure  ?  " 

"  As  certain  as  death.  They  complain  now  and  then  and 
want  to  cut  down  a  little,  but  they  are  honest  as  gold." 

"  Hm,  you  see  I  don't  know  much  about  that  sort  of 
thing.  And  it's  a  draft  on  sight,  too,  no  loss  of  interest. 
Now  that  we're  here  alone,  my  dear  Lahusen,  won't  you 
shut  your  book  a  moment,  and  allow  me  a  discreet  ques- 
tion?" 

"  Certainly."     Christian  Lahusen  knew  what  was  com- 

22 


Dietrich  Theden 

ing.    At  least,  he  thought  he  did,  and  his  fresh  round  face 
flushed. 

Waregg  came  to  the  point  at  once.  "  I  suppose  you 
know  what's  keeping  me  here?  Will  you  give  me  your 
daughter  for  my  wife  ?  " 

"  Have  you  spoken  to  her  ?  "  asked  Lahusen,  hesitating. 

"  No,  I  wish  to  be  quite  correct  and  to  secure  your  con- 
sent first." 

Lahusen  stood  up.  "If  my  daughter  wants  you,  I  have 
nothing  against  it." 

"  I  will  speak  to  her  myself." 

"  Yes,  I  will  leave  that  to  you." 

"  She  is  busy  in  the  house  now.  But  late  in  the  after- 
noon when  she  is  free,  I  will  find  her.  It  can  hardly  sur- 
prise her  by  this  time." 

Lahusen  pressed  his  guest's  hand.  "  Yes,  speak  to  her 
then,"  he  said. 

So  he  really  meant  business ;  he  thought  in  triumph. 
What  a  sensation  it  would  make  in  the  village !  and  what  a 
defeat  for  the  gossips  and  the  backbiters !  Lahusen  mopped 
his  brow  with  his  handkerchief,  put  his  books  and  his  ac- 
counts in  his  iron  safe,  hurried  through  his  house  and  gar- 
den and  couldn't  seem  to  await  the  afternoon.  During 
the  day,  however,  a  young  friend  of  Dorothea's  came  to 
take  her  away  to  a  birthday  party,  which  rather  upset  the 
plans  of  the  men  of  the  household  and  put  them  in  a  bad. 
humor.  During  the  early  evening,  when  there  was  so 
much  business  in  the  store,  there  was  no  possibility  of  a 
quiet  conversation.  The  Baron  didn't  come  to  take  care 
of  the  cash  that  evening,  but  promenaded  the  garden,  in- 
stead, with  a  very  melancholy  expression  of  face. 

Finally,  after  supper,  the  balmy  air  drew  Dorothea  to  the 
garden,  and  she  wandered  out  to  a  little  arbor  with  a  ro- 
mantic outlook  on  the  lake  and  the  woods  beyond.  It  was 
a  charming  evening,  with  the  delicate  light  of  the  early 
moon  over  wood  and  water,  and  the  young  girl  hummed 
a  song  gently  as  she  sat  there  alone. 

In  the  deep  silence  she  was  startled  by  steps  approach- 

23 


German  Mystery  Stories 

ing  the  arbor.  She  recognized  the  Baron  and  left  her  little 
nook,  as  she  did  not  wish  to  be  alone  with  him  in  any  place 
so  secluded. 

She  answered  his  greetings  with  reserve. 

"  May  I  speak  to  you  for  a  moment  ? "  Waregg  began. 

She  nodded  and  walked  slowly  through  the  garden  path, 
while  he  followed  at  her  side. 

"  Miss  Dorothea,  I  have  followed  you  ever  since  I  first 
met  you.  Must  I  tell  you  why  I  am  here  ?  " 

She  halted  and  turned  to  look  at  him. 

"  I  will  tell  you  then,"  he  said.  "  I  love  you,  Dorothea ; 
will  you  be  my  wife  ?  " 

She  was  surprised  at  the  calmness  with  which  she  heard 
his  words,  particularly  as  the  moonlight  streaming  over  his 
face  brought  out  its  peculiarities  more  clearly  than  she 
had  ever  seen  them  before.  It  looked  yellow,  deepened  in 
spots  where  the  smooth-shaven  black  beard  gleamed  through 
the  skin.  The  turned-up  corners  of  the  mustache  had  an 
artificial  appearance;  fine  lines  that  years  alone  can  bring 
were  gathered  about  the  corners  of  his  eyes,  and  his  glance 
had  a  glowing  keenness  that  frightened  her. 

She  shook  her  blond  head.  "  No,"  she  said ;  "  I  thank 
you  for  the  honor  you  have  done  me,  but  I  cannot  accept." 

He  paused  for  a  moment,  then  answered  calmly,  with  a 
sharp  glance  at  her :  "  Forgive  me,  if  I  ventured  to  hope 
too  much.  I  had  your  father's  consent.  But  if  I  cannot 
win  yours,  I  will  leave  this  place  at  once."  He  bowed  for- 
mally and  ceremoniously.  "  I  will  take  the  noon  train  to- 
morrow and  may  therefore  have  no  further  opportunity  to 
see  you.  Farewell,  Miss  Lahusen." 

She  bowed  without  speaking  and  breathed  a  deep  sigh 
of  relief  as  he  walked  quickly  toward  the  house  and  left 
her  alone  with  the  peace  of  the  evening.  She  saw  no  more 
of  the  Baron  that  evening.  When  she  had  remained  about 
an  hour  more  in  the  garden  she  went  quietly  upstairs  to 
her  own  room  without  going  to  see  her  father  as  usual.  She 
was  still  awake  when,  at  eleven  o'clock,  the  last  guests  left 
the  inn  room,  and  shortly  after  that  she  heard  her  father 

24 


Dietrich  Theden 

come  upstairs.  She  heard  midnight  strike  from  the  deep- 
toned  church  clock  of  Briigghofen,  then  her  eyes  closed 
in  the  deep  healthy  sleep  of  youth. 

Lahusen  was  usually  the  first  up  in  the  morning,  awaken- 
ing his  daughter  and  the  rest  of  the  household  force  by 
knocking  on  their  doors.  The  morning  following  Dorothea's 
refusal  of  Waregg,  Lahusen  started  up  uneasily  from  his 
bed,  as  it  seemed  to  him  that  he  heard  a  loud  knocking  at 
the  window  of  the  inn  room  which  looked  out  upon  the 
main  street.  He  looked  at  his  clock,  saw  that  it  was  only 
five  o'clock  and  listened  again.  There  it  was,  beyond  a 
doubt  this  time.  "  Well,  that  is  early,"  he  said,  sprang  out 
of  bed,  and  drew  his  clothes  on  hastily. 

Five  o'clock  was  the  usual  rising  hour  at  the  farm  in 
summer,  but  for  several  weeks  now  the  winter  hour  of 
six  o'clock  had  been  introduced.  Even  the  early  drovers 
did  not  come  before  six.  Who  could  it  possibly  be? 

Bum — bum — bum — there  it  was  again,  at  the  window 
of  the  inn  room.  Lahusen  opened  his  own  window  and 
called  out,  "  Yes,  yes,  one  moment."  He  finished  his  toilet 
in  haste  and  hurried  down  to  welcome  the  early  guest. 

A  broad-shouldered  stranger  with  a  dark  gray  overcoat 
and  a  stiff  black  hat  stood  before  him  as  he  opened  the 
door.  "  Good  morning.  Is  this  Mr.  Lahusen  ?  " 

"  Yes,  I  am  he." 

"  I  beg  your  pardon  for  coming  so  early.  My  name  is 
Groth.  Police  Commissioner  from  Kiel." 

"Who?  what?"  asked  the  landlord,  surprised. 

The  Commissioner  pointed  to  a  little  shield  under  his 
overcoat  and  continued,  "  I  come  on  official  business ;  may 
I  speak  to  you  alone?" 

Lahusen  led  the  way  to  the  room  in  surprise.  "  You  come 
on  business  ?  To  me  ?  "  he  asked  as  if  in  doubt. 

The  stranger  took  a  portfolio  from  his  pocket,  searched 
among  the  papers  it  contained,  took  one  out,  read  it  and 
asked,  "  Is  there  a  Baron  Herbert  von  Waregg  living 
here?" 

25 


German  Mystery  Stories 

11  Waregg?  "  stammered  Lahusen  astounded. 

"  Herbert  von  Waregg,  as  he  calls  himself." 

"Calls  himself?" 

"  Will  you  please  answer  my  question  ?  Does  the  gentle- 
man live  here  ?  " 

"  Yes,  certainly." 

"  Is  he  still  in  the  house?  " 

"  Why,  yes,  in  his  room." 

The  Commissioner  smiled.  "  That's  good.  I  was  afraid 
the  bird  might  have  flown.  I  have  an  order  here  to  arrest 
the  Baron." 

"What?    Arrest  him?" 

"  I'm  very  sorry  that  I  have  to  thus  disturb  you,  and  I 
am  sorry  also  to  have  to  tell  you  that  you  have  fallen  into 
the  hands  of  a  swindler." 

"  A  swindler  ?  Oh,  impossible !  "  cried  Lahusen  in  ex- 
citement. 

The  official  showed  him  the  warrant,  but  the  letters 
danced  before  Lahusen's  eyes.  He  could  only  make  out 
the  official  heading  and  the  words  "Warrant  for  Arrest," 
then  a  strange  name,  "  Thomas  Gliczek,"  and  beside  it  in 
brackets,  "  Baron  Herbert  von  Waregg,  also  Lieutenant 
Thomas  von  Bowegg,"  and  then  finally  the  signature  "  Dis- 
trict Attorney  Riittgers." 

Yes,  he  knew  that  last  name.  The  man  was  the  brother 
of  a  landed  proprietor  who  was  one  of  his  customers.  ,And 
this  representative  of  justice  was  on  the  heels  of  his  Baron, 
and  this  Baron  von  Waregg  was  only  Thomas  Gliczek  and 
a  common  swindler!  Lahusen  groaned,  and  it  was  some 
time  before  he  could  control  himself.  But  then  he  pulled 
himself  together  and  told  the  official  to  do  his  duty.  "  Come 
with  me."  He  crossed  a  narrow  corridor  between  the  inn 
room  and  the  store  and  pointed  to  a  staircase  which  led  to 
the  second  story. 

"  Lead  the  way,  please,"  said  the  official.  "  But  be  care- 
ful that  the  stairs  do  not  creak." 

They  tiptoed  past  several  doors  until  Lahusen  stopped 
before  one  of  them,  to  which  he  pointed.  The  Commis- 

26 


Dietrich  Thedcn 

sioner  turned  the  knob  gently  and  found  that  the  door 
was  locked.  He  took  an  instrument  from  his  pocket 
and  opened  it  noiselessly.  They  stepped  inside,  but  the 
bed  was  empty.  The  trunks  still  stood  in  the  room,  sev- 
eral suits  and  coats  hung  in  the  wardrobe,  and  a  half- 
opened  drawer  was  full  of  underwear.  The  bed  had  not 
been  used  at  all. 

The  official  turned  to  Lahusen.  "  Did  the  man  have 
other  rooms  ?  "  he  said,  evidently  in  a  bad  humor. 

"  No,  only  this  one,  the  largest  in  the  house." 

The  Commissioner  stepped  to  the  window.  "  Aha !  "  he 
exclaimed,  "  he  has  escaped  us  after  all."  He  drew  up  a 
heavy  rope  which  was  fastened  to  the  window  sill  and  hung 
down  nearly  to  the  ground.  "You  see  the  path  he  has 
taken.  That  sort  of  man  has  a  fine  sense  of  danger  and 
generally  gets  out  in  time.  Do  you  know  whether  he  re- 
ceived a  telegram  last  night  ?  " 

"  Not  that  I  know  of." 

"  We  got  wind  of  him  yesterday  in  Kiel  through  a 
woman  he  lived  with."  (Lahusen  gasped  at  this.)  "A 
Polish  woman,  very  ordinary  sort,"  continued  the  Commis- 
sioner. "  He  has  neglected  her  since  the  beginning  of  the 
summer,  and  that  made  her  very  angry.  He  came  back 
to  her  day  before  yesterday,  brought  her  money,  and  told 
her  that  he  would  send  her  some  regularly  from  now  on, 
from  here.  The  woman  believed  that  he  was  deceiving  her- 
and  she  betrayed  him  to  the  police.  In  this  way  we  found 
out  where  he  was,  but  too  late  again.  Well,  it  wasn't  my 
knocking  that  frightened  him,  for  he  has  not  been  to  bed 
this  night  and  probably  left  here  in  the  late  evening.  You 
see,  he  shut  the  door  carefully  that  his  flight  would  not  be 
discovered  until  as  late  as  possible.  I  suppose  he  told  you 
all  sorts  of  things  about  himself,  and — was  he  in  your  debt 
also?" 

Christian  Lahusen  shook  his  head.  "  No,  even  yesterday 
evening  he  paid  me  up  for  the  very  last  days." 

"  Yesterday  was  Thursday ;  did  he  usually  pay  on  that 
day?" 

2? 


German  Mystery  Stories 

"  No,  he  usually  paid  his  bill  on  Saturdays." 

"  How  long  has  he  been  here  ?  " 

"  Since  the  beginning  of  the  summer." 

"  Oh,  indeed !  During  the  whole  time  he's  been  away 
from  the  woman  then.  And  he  paid  regularly,  you  said  ?  " 

"Yes,  every  Saturday  regularly." 

"  But  then,  didn't  you  notice  the  change  in  the  day  ? 
Didn't  you  wonder  why  he  paid  yesterday  ?  " 

Lahusen  was  embarrassed.  "Well,  I'll  tell  you,"  he  said 
finally ;  "  you  see  he  was  a  suitor  for  my  daughter's  hand. 
She  refused  him  yesterday  and  he  told  us  that  he  would 
leave  to-day." 

"  Oh,  indeed ! "  A  gleam  in  the  Commissioner's  eyes 
showed  that  he  was  surprised  at  this.  "  Hm !  "  he  con- 
tinued, "  this  refusal  could  hardly  have  caused  him  to  run 
away  by  night  and  leave  all  his  things  here.  It  was  prob- 
ably the  fear  of  discovery  from  his  other  doings  that  caused 
him  to  hurry  up  with  his  wooing  and  then  to  flee  when  this 
last  hope  went  back  on  him.  If  I  only  knew  how  the  knowl- 
edge that  the  woman  had  betrayed  him  reached  him.  Did 
he  have  any  callers  ?  " 

"  Never,  that  I  knew  of." 

"  Not  even  yesterday  ?  " 

"  No — that  is,  in  the  night  perhaps.  That  I  do  not  know, 
of  course." 

"  When  did  he  go  to  his  room  ?  " 

"  A  little  after  ten,  I  think." 

"  And  you  heard  nothing  more  of  him  ?  " 

"  No." 

The  Commissioner  examined  the  trunks  and  the  clothes 
that  were  scattered  about,  but  could  find  nothing  except  a 
few  loose  leaves  of  newspapers  and  the  photograph  of  a 
large  house  that  looked  like  a  castle.  "  This  looks  famil- 
iar," he  remarked.  "  Isn't  this  Prince  Heinrich's  castle, 
Hemmelmark  ?  " 

Lahusen  did  not  know  the  castle  in  question,  and  stam- 
mered out  that  the  swindler  had  showed  him  this  building 
as  his  family  home.  "  He  took  it  easy,"  replied  the  Com- 

28 


Dietrich  Theden 

missioner  ironically.  "  This  is  a  side  view  of  Hemmel- 
mark." 

He  asked  for  any  further  information  about  statements 
the  swindler  had  made,  and  took  down  notes.  "  Did  he  re- 
ceive any  money  through  the  mails  or  in  any  other  way  ?  " 

"  No." 

"  Then  I  don't  understand  what  he  lived  on  and  where 
he  got  the  five  hundred  marks  that  he  gave  the  woman 
yesterday.  He  didn't  have  any  money  at  all  last  spring." 
He  looked  sharply  at  the  innkeeper.  "  You  have  a  very 
large  business,  I  understand.  Did  he  manage  to  get  in  on 
the  inside  of  that  somehow  ?  " 

Christian  Lahusen  changed  color.  "  Robbed  me,  you 
mean  ?  " 

"  Exactly." 

Lahusen  beat  his  forehead.  "  Impossible !  I — "  he  mur- 
mured several  things  to  himself  that  were  not  quite  polite. 
He  told  his  visitor  of  how  the  Baron  had  handled  the  cash 
evenings  in  the  store. 

"  That's  the  explanation,"  said  the  Commissioner  coolly, 
with  a  short  laugh.  "Were  you  quite  blind?  Paid  you 
regularly  out  of  your  own  pocket — eh!  He  took  it  piece 
by  piece,  I  suppose — are  you  sure  that  he  didn't  take  larger 
sums?" 

Lahusen  started. 

"  I  suppose  you  do  not  leave  the  money  in  the  shop  till. 
Where  do  you  keep  the  larger  sums  ?  " 

"  In  the  private  office  behind  the  inn  room." 

"  Has  he  ever  been  there  ?  " 

"  Sometimes ;  he  helped  me  with  my  accounts  occasion- 
ally." 

The  Commissioner  loosened  the  rope  from  the  window 
and  closed  the  blinds.  "  I  will  close  this  room  and  keep 
the  key.  You  must  leave  everything  just  as  I  have  found 
it.  And  now  lead  me  to  your  office." 

Lahusen  hastened  down  the  stairs.  A  sudden  idea  that 
the  swindler  might  have  utilized  the  last  night  to  carry 
out  some  big  trick  caused  him  to  hurry  very  considerably. 

29 


German  Mystery  Stories 

He  threw  open  the  door  and  stared  into  the  narrow  room. 
Apparently  everything  was  in  perfect  order  and  the  safe 
untouched.  He  let  himself  fall  on  a  chair.  "  That  was  a 
fright!" 

Groth  looked  about  him  carefully.  On  a  chair  beside 
the  safe  he  saw  a  little  box  made  of  wire  netting  such  as 
is  used  as  a  tray  for  small  safes.  He  raised  it.  "  Did  you 
forget  to  shut  this  in  ?  "  he  asked. 

Lahusen  sprang  up.  "  Why — why,  how  did  that  get 
there  ?  "  He  took  out  his  keys,  sought  hastily  for  the  key 
of  the  safe  with  fingers  that  trembled,  and  finally  opened  it. 
After  one  look,  he  sprang  back  with  a  cry  of  horror. 

The  inside  compartments  were  half  open.  The  bags  of 
gold  and  silver,  the  portfolio  with  the  banknotes  and  the 
draft  of  the  Kruse  firm,  even  the  rolls  of  small  change, 
were  all  gone.  Lahusen  groaned  and  cursed  and  carried  on 
like  a  madman. 

The  Commissioner  waited  impatiently  until  he  was  some- 
what calmer.  "  Do  you  want  to  waken  the  whole  house 
and  the  neighborhood,  and  give  the  swindler  warning  ? " 
he  asked  energetically.  "  Calm  yourself  and  answer  my 
questions  first.  This  safe  has  been  opened  with  the  key 
that  belongs  to  it  or  another  one  just  like  it.  You  must 
have  guarded  your  keys  very  carelessly.  You  probably  left 
it  in  the  lock  and  gave  him  a  chance  to  make  an  impres- 
sion. How  much  money  was  there  in  the  safe  ? " 

"  Nineteen  thousand  marks,"  groaned  the  robbed  man, 
sinking  down  in  a  chair. 

The  Commissioner  seemed  surprised.  "  As  much  as  that  ? 
In  gold  or  paper?  " 

"  Three  thousand  in  gold,"  groaned  Lahusen.  "  About 
eleven  thousand  in  banknotes — and,  my  God!  there  was 
the  draft  for  four  thousand  eight  hundred — the  rascal  for- 
got nothing." 

"  A  draft?  "  inquired  the  official,  taking  down  the  figures. 
"When  due?" 

"  On  sight — on  sight !  that's  the  worst  of  all.  He'll  cash 
it  at  once." 

30 


Dietrich  Theden 

"  A  sight  draft  ?    Have  you  a  telegraph  station  here  ?  " 

"  Yes,  at  the  railway  station.  I  will  wire  at  once,"  said 
Lahusen  hastily. 

"  You  can  leave  that  to  me,"  answered  Groth  coolly. 
"  To  whom  was  the  draft  made  out  ?  " 

"  Hamann  &  Son  in  Kiel — good  Lord !  if  we  could  only 
save  that !  " 

"  Calm  yourself,  you  will  probably  get  back  most  of  the 
rest  of  it  also.  The  draft  is  the  noose  in  which  the  criminal 
will  hang  himself."  Groth  spoke  with  conviction.  "  I  will 
tell  you  a  few  hurried  facts  about  this  Baron,  so  that  you 
may  see  what  sort  of  a  man  he  was.  And  then  you  must 
do  exactly  as  I  tell  you  if  you  want  us  to  help  you  officially. 
I  shan't  bother  to  make  a  long  report  now.  That  will  do 
later."  He  closed  his  notebook  and  leaned  back  against 
the  table. 

"  Gliczek  is  an  international  swindler."  Groth  spoke 
somewhat  as  if  he  were  giving  a  lesson,  but  rather  more 
quickly.  "  His  last  operations  were  carried  out  in  Vienna, 
and  he  is  being  sought  for  by  the  Russian,  English,  and 
Prussian  authorities.  He  is  one  of  the  cleverest  of  his  kind. 
The  police  have  never  before  had  such  a  man  to  deal  with. 
He  appears  at  places  where  we  could  by  no  possibility  ex- 
pect him  to  be,  and  he  disappears  as  completely  as  a  meteor 
drops  from  the  sky.  He  is  considered  a  marvel  in  the  cir- 
cles of  criminals,  and  also  among  the  police  officials.  What 
he  has  done  here  has  proved  that  this  opinion  is  justified. 
Let  us  hope  that  his  greed,  and  his  anxiety  to  get  as  much 
as  possible,  may  lead  him  to  his  fate." 

Groth  looked  at  his  watch  hastily.  "  It  is  almost  half- 
past  six  already.  Hamann  &  Son  will  open  their  offices  at 
nine  o'clock,  and  the  swindler  will  probably  be  among  the 
first  to  present  his  draft.  I  will  telegraph  the  police  to 
notify  the  bank  and  watch  for  the  thief  there.  And  still 
further :  I  do  not  think  that  he  has  sought  safety  in  further 
flight  as  yet,  for  he  may  not  have  known  of  his  betrayal 
through  the  woman.  He  will  take  for  granted  that  several 
hours  will  pass  before  his  disappearance  and  his  crime  here 

31 


German  Mystery  Stories 

are  discovered,  and  until  then  he  will  feel  quite  safe  in 
Kiel.  You  must  not  warn  him  by  any  noise  here.  Until  I 
notify  you,  you  must  say  nothing  to  anyone  in  this  place. 
Do  not  let  a  word  of  your  loss  escape  you.  Wait  as  pa- 
tiently as  you  can  until  to-morrow  evening,  unless  you 
should  hear  from  me  before  then.  Should  we  not  find  him 
at  the  bank,  we  want  to  have  time  to  search  the  hotels  and 
all  the  criminal  haunts  for  him,  before  he  knows  that  he 
has  been  discovered.  To-morrow  evening  at  the  very  latest 
you  will  receive  a  telegram  from  me.  And  now,  will  you 
please  give  me  a  sheet  of  paper?  How  will  this  do?  "  He 
read  the  telegram  he  had  written :  "  Important,  Police 
Headquarters,  Kiel.  Gliczek  robbed  safe  of  Lahusen  in 
Briigghofen.  Fled  probably  to  Kiel.  Watch  for  him  at 
bank  Hamann  &  Son,  will  probably  present  draft  on  sight. 
Return  at  once  myself.  GROTH." 

"  I  will  be  there  myself  a  few  minutes  after  nine,"  he  said 
to  Lahusen,  and  took  a  cool  official  farewell. 

Lahusen  found  his  daughter  waiting  for  him  with  his 
morning  coffee  in  their  own  little  room  behind  the  inn 
room.  The  old  man  struggled  hard  to  control  his  emotion, 
as  he  did  not  wish  his  daughter  to  have  any  suspicions  of 
what  had  happened  during  the  night  "  Is  everybody  up  ?  " 
he  asked  Dorothea,  and  then  discovered  that  his  household 
had  taken  the  opportunity  for  a  little  extra  morning  nap. 
He  hurried  from  door  to  door,  calling  them,  and  then  re- 
turned to  the  coffee  table. 

"  The — Baron — has  gone  away,"  he  said  slowly,  avoiding 
looking  at  her. 

She  noticed  his  excitement  and  thought  she  understood 
it.  "  It  is  better  so,  father,"  she  said  quietly  and  softly. 

He  did  not  answer,  took  a  few  swallows  of  coffee  and 
left  the  room.  He  closed  and  locked  his  plundered  safe, 
and  went  out  to  the  shores  of  the  lake. 

The  fresh  autumn  air  cooled  his  heated  brow  and  seemed 
to  relieve  his  pain.  His  blue  eyes,  under  their  heavy  brows, 
glanced  around,  but  without  seeing  what  was  before  them. 

32 


Dietrich  Theden 

The  money  lost,  if  it  could  not  be  recovered,  was  bad 
enough,  and  would  cost  him  the  profit  of  an  entire  year. 
More,  perhaps,  for  it  was  impossible  to  oversee  what  the 
thief  might  have  taken  during  his  evening  "  assistance  "  in 
the  shop.  But,  more  than  all  that,  he  felt  keenly  the  foolish 
part  which  the  swindler  had  forced  him  to  play  in  his  own 
house — a  part  that  would  now  make  him  the  laughing- 
stock of  the  entire  village.  And  then  the  thought  of  his 
daughter,  that  was  the  worst  of  all.  Had  the  rascal  dared 
to  pretend  affection  for  her  simply  for  the  sake  of  the 
chance  to  rob  the  house?  Or  should  the  sweet  girl  really 
have  made  an  impression  on  the  criminal,  and  had  he  really 
the  intention  of  marrying  her,  of  carrying  disgrace  into  a 
respectable  family?  Lahusen  rejoiced  that  his  child  had 
not  been  carried  away  by  a  title  and  the  appearance  of 
wealth,  and  that  her  sensible  straightforward  nature  had 
felt  sufficient  dislike  of  the  man  to  refuse  him  in  spite  of 
his  amiability. 

The  natural  impatience  with  which  Lahusen  awaited  the 
evening  of  the  following  day  grew  from  hour  to  hour  as 
the  appointed  time  came  and  went  without  the  news  for 
which  he  was  so  anxiously  waiting. 

As  the  evening  neared  its  end  he  sought  to  console  him- 
self by  the  thought  that  the  official  might  not  have  wished 
to  content  himself  with  the  telegram,  and  that  the  following 
morning  would  surely  bring  him  a  letter.  He  did  not  sleep 
at  all  that  night,  arose  early  the  following  morning  and 
went  to  the  post  office  before  the  usual  delivery  hour. 
There  were  but  a  few  letters  for  him,  none  of  them  from 
Groth. 

Lahusen  staggered  to  the  waiting  room  of  the  railway 
station,  which  was  still  quite  empty,  and  tried  to  collect  his 
thoughts.  What  should  he  do  ?  Should  he  wait  longer,  or 
should  he  telegraph  himself  ?  Yes,  he  would  do  that.  The 
gentlemen  at  the  police  station  would  not  be  surprised  at 
his  natural  impatience. 

He  found  a  telegraph  blank  in  the  anteroom  of  the  office, 

33 


German  Mystery  Stories 

went  back  into  the  waiting  room  and  wrote  the  following: 
"  Police  Headquarters,  Kiel.  Please  ask  Commissioner 
Groth  for  news  whether  Gliczek  has  been  arrested  and 
stolen  money  saved."  He  signed  his  full  name,  paid  for  his 
telegram  without  heeding  the  astonished  expression  of  the 
operator,  and  returned  to  his  home. 

The  answer  came  just  as  he  had  seated  himself  for  his 
breakfast.  He  opened  the  envelope  hastily  and  read: 
"  Christian  Lahusen,  Briigghofen.  Commissioner  Groth 
unknown  here.  No  information  regarding  Gliczek  robbery 
received.  Police  Headquarters,  Kiel." 

Lahusen  staggered,  handed  the  telegram  to  his  daughter 
and  explained  it  stammeringly.  "  Twice  betrayed — by  the 
thief  and  by  his  accomplice ! "  he  groaned,  as  the  full  con- 
sciousness of  the  truth  burst  upon  him. 

Dorothea  accompanied  him  to  the  telegraph  station. 
"  Was — was  there  a  telegram  sent  to  the  police  station  in 
Kiel  —  yesterday  morning  early  —  sent  by  Commissioner 
Groth — about  a  robbery  in  my  house?"  he  asked  of  the 
operator. 

"  Groth — a  robbery  in  your  house  ?  "  repeated  the  official, 
looking  through  the  file  of  the  last  two  or  three  days.  "  No, 
I  can't  find  anything,"  he  said  finally. 

Lahusen  wired  to  Hamann  &  Son  about  the  draft.  The 
answer,  which  was  received  almost  immediately,  read: 
"  Draft  four  thousand  eight  hundred  presented  yesterday 
morning  by  Baron  von  Waregg.  Claimed  to  be  your  son- 
in-law  and  money  paid  to  him.  If  any  trouble,  let  us  know. 
Hamann  &  Son." 

"  Of  course,  of  course,"  groaned  Lahusen.  "  The  thief 
knew  that  he  would  be  discovered,  and  he  warded  off  pur- 
suit and  gained  two  or  three  days,  by  the  help  of  his  accom- 
plice. A  very  clever  trick !  The  two  rascals  are  probably 
safe  over  the  frontier  with  their  booty  by  now ! " 

The  news  about  the  swindler  Baron  and  the  robbery  ran 
like  wildfire  through  the  quiet  village,  and  the  peasants 
gathered  in  scores  in  the  inn  room.  They  talked,  disputed, 
told  of  their  own  distrust  and  warnings,  asserted  that  they 

34 


Dietrich  Theden 

had  known  all  about  it  all  along,  and  shrugged  their  shoul- 
ders over  the  so  easily  deceived  Lahusen.  They  were  sorry 
for  him,  but  they  declared  that  his  punishment  had  not  been 
undeserved. 

The  real  police,  called  in  too  late,  took  great  interest  in 
the  affair.  But  all  they  could  do  was  to  declare  that  all  the 
talk  about  the  "  marvel "  and  the  "  well-known  interna- 
tional swindler  "  was  an  invention  of  the  imaginative  ac- 
complice. There  were  no  records  of  any  such  person  on 
the  police  lists. 

But  Lahusen  remembered  his  Baron  for  many  a  year, 
long  after  he  had  overcome  the  actual  money  loss.  When 
he  forgot  himself  and  began  to  lay  down  the  law  to  his 
friends  at  the  inn,  the  shrewd  peasants  would  receive  his 
dictatorial  advice  with  an  amused  smile,  and  would  remark : 
"  Not  even  the  Pope  is  infallible,  they  say.  Remember  your 
Baron  von  Waregg,  Christian." 


35 


Venice  at  the  Period  of  "Andrea  Delfin  " 

THE  scene  and  time  of  Heyse's  "Andrea  Delfin"  are  alike  tragic. 
Venice  was  rarely  a  peaceful  community  in  its  early  glory.  But 
the  years  from  1750  on  until  nearly  tlv  close  of  the  century  saw 
the  very  blackest  period.  The  Queen  of  the  Seas  had  become  a 
community  torn  by  petty  internal  strife  and  jealousies. 

Unsuccessful  war  had  robbed  the  proud  Republic  of  many  of 
her  possessions.  Aggression  from  without  could  not  be  combated 
by  a  people  harassed  by  tyranny  within.  Individual  initiative  was 
killed  by  despotism,  industry  and  commerce  suffered  in  conse- 
quence, and  life  in  Venice  offered  nothing  but  the  opportunity  for 
political  intrigue  or  private  and  public  debauchery. 

The  Great  Council,  that  splendid  machinery  of  government, 
instituted  in  the  early  days  of  the  Republic  to  secure  the  power  to 
the  Sovereign  People  forever,  had  come  to  be  only  an  instrument 
in  the  hands  of  the  nobility,  helpless  itself  to  control  its  own  creature, 
the  Council  of  Ten.  This  smaller  council,  at  first  merely  a  com- 
mittee of  the  Great  Council,  chosen  to  act  on  certain  special  cases 
of  urgency,  had  become  the  true  seat  of  power,  and  with  its  own 
appointed  committee,  the  Three  Inquisitors  of  State,  ruled  Venice 
absolutely. 

The  Three  Inquisitors  were  the  final  judges,  and  the  mystery 
which  surrounded  their  actions,  their  very  persons  even,  made  their 
rule  a  complete  despotic  tyranny,  responsible  to  no  one,  sparing 
no  one.  No  citizen  of  Venice  was  safe  from  interference  in  his 
most  private  affairs ;  open  murder  and  secret  assassination  were  the 
order  of  the  day.  The  strife  of  the  nobility  among  themselves  rent 
the  city  asunder.  A  party  of  the  older  families,  prominent  since 
the  earliest  days  of  Venetian  history,  had  been  ousted  from  power 
by  a  younger  faction  which  had  captured  the  Council  of  Ten.  They 
still  held  seats  in  the  Great  Council,  but  were  powerless  to  control 
the  Ten.  Their  jealousy  broke  out  in  constant  petty  rebellions 
which  sharpened  the  tyranny  of  the  Ten,  and  an  era  of  oppression 
that  would  have  done  credit  to  the  most  despotic  form  of  monarchy 
brooded  over  the  nation  calling  itself  a  Republic.  The  absorption 
of  power  and  wealth  in  the  hands  of  the  few  meant  poverty  and 
loss  of  energy  for  the  many,  and  the  death  knell  of  Venetian  in- 
dependence had  sounded. — EDITOR. 


Paul  Heyse 

Andrea  Del/in 

"Vengeance  is  mine,  said  the  Lord" 

ABOUT  the  middle  of  the  last  century  there  stood,  in 
a  side  street  of  Venice,  a  quiet  little  street  bearing 
the  cheerful  name  "  Delia  Cortesia,"  a  simple  one-story 
house.  The  Madonna  was  enthroned  above  its  low  portal, 
in  a  niche  framed  by  wooden  columns  and  quaint  stone 
carvings.  A  tiny  lamp,  set  in  a  globe  of  ruby  glass,  shone 
out  before  the  statue  day  and  night.  Just  inside  the  lower 
vestibule  a  steep  staircase  led  to  the  upper  rooms.  On  its 
higher  landing  another  little  lamp,  hanging  on  chains  from 
the  ceiling,  gave  a  dim  light  in  the  dark  hall.  In  spite  of 
the  eternal  twilight  that  reigned  there,  the  staircase  was 
the  favorite  place,  for  rest  or  work,  of  the  owner,  Giovanna 
Danieli.  Since  the  death  of  her  husband,  Madame  Gio- 
vanna had  occupied  the  little  dwelling  with  her  only  child, 
her  daughter  Marietta,  renting  some  of  the  rooms  she  did 
not  need  to  quiet,  well-recommended  strangers.  Giovanna 
would  explain  her  love  for  the  stairs  by  saying  that  her 
eyes  had  become  so  weakened  through  weeping  for  her 
lost  husband  that  they  could  no  longer  endure  the  full  day- 
light. Her  neighbors  asserted  that  she  enjoyed  the  oppor- 
tunity her  position  on  the  stairs  gave  her  for  stopping 
those  who  went  in  or  out,  and  chatting  with  them. 

However  this  might  be,  her  favorite  place  of  sojourn 
afforded  her  little  chance  for  amusement  on  the  day  and 
hour  when  we  first  make  her  acquaintance.  It  was  an 
evening  in  August  of  the  year  1762.  For  six  months  she 
had  had  no  lodgers,  and  she  was  unlikely  to  have  any 
visitors  at  so  late  an  hour.  Madame  Giovanna  had  sent 

37 


German  Mystery  Stories 

her  daughter  to  bed,  and  had  settled  herself  on  the  stairs 
with  a  basket  of  vegetables  beside  her.  But  her  hands 
rested  idly  in  her  lap,  her  head  fell  back  against  the  railing, 
and  she  was  just  dozing  off  when  three  slow,  heavy  blows 
on  the  house  door  awoke  her.  She  listened  in  alarm,  not 
knowing  whether  she  had  really  heard  the  noise.  The  blows 
of  the  knocker  were  repeated.  Madame  Giovanna  shook 
her  head,  then  walked  slowly  down  the  stairs,  and  asked 
through  the  crack  of  the  door  who  demanded  entrance  at 
so  late  an  hour. 

A  voice  answered  that  a  stranger  stood  outside  who  was 
looking  for  a  room.  The  house  had  been  recommended  to 
him  and  he  desired  to  remain  for  some  time.  His  polite 
manner  of  speaking  awoke  Giovanna's  confidence  sufficiently 
to  allow  her  to  open  the  door.  She  saw  a  man  in  the  quiet 
black  garb  of  the  middle-class  citizen,  holding  a  leather  bag 
under  one  arm.  His  face  attracted  her  attention.  He  was 
neither  young  nor  old,  his  beard  was  dark  brown,  his  eyes 
bright  and  fiery,  his  brow  without  a  furrow.  But  around 
his  mouth  were  lines  of  weariness  and  his  close-cropped 
hair  was  quite  gray. 

"  I  regret  to  have  disturbed  you  so  late,  my  good  woman/* 
he  said.  "  Tell  me  at  once  whether  you  have  a  room  look- 
ing out  upon  the  canal.  I  come  from  Brescia,  and  my 
physician  told  me  that  I  must  live  near  the  water,  as  I  need 
the  moist  air  for  my  weak  lungs." 

"  Fortune  be  praised !  "  exclaimed  the  widow.  "  My  last 
lodger  left  me  because  his  room  was  too  near  the  canal ; 
he  complained  that  the  water  smelled  as  if  rats  had  been 
boiled  in  it.  They  do  say  here  in  Venice  that  our  canal 
water  is  a  radical  cure  for  all  ills.  But  they  mean  it  in  the 
sense  of  the  many  times  when  the  authorities  send  out  a 
gondola  to  the  lagoons  with  three  passengers,  and  it  returns 
with  only  two.  God  preserve  us  all!  Is  your  passport  in 
good  order?  Otherwise  I  may  not  take  you." 

"  I  have  already  shown  it  three  times — in  Mestra,  in  the 
police  gondola  outside  the  harbor,  and  at  the  Traghetto. 
My  name  is  Andrea  Delfin,  my  business  that  of  scribe  to 

38 


Paul  Heyse 

the  notaries.    I  am  a  quiet  man,  and  have  as  little  to  do 
with  the  police  as  possible." 

"  That  is  good  hearing,"  said  the  little  woman,  leading 
her  guest  upstairs.  "  These  are  hard  times,  Ser  Andrea. 
Is  it  not  pretty  here  ?  "  She  opened  the  door  of  a  large 
room  and  motioned  him  to  enter.  "  The  window  there 
looks  out  upon  the  canal,  and  the  other  window  opens  on 
a  little  alley.  But  you  must  close  that  window  on  account 
of  the  bats.  And  across  the  canal  there,  so  near  that  you 
could  almost  touch  it,  is  the  palace  of  Countess  Amadei,  who 
is  as  blond  as  yellow  gold,  and  goes  through  as  many  hands. 
I  will  bring  you  light  and  water  in  a  moment.  Do  you  wish 
anything  to  eat  ?  " 

The  stranger  threw  a  quick,  sharp  glance  about  the  room, 
went  from  one  window  to  the  other,  and  then  threw  his 
bag  upon  a  chair.  "  This  will  do  very  well,"  he  said.  "  We 
will  soon  come  to  an  agreement  about  the  price,  I  fancy. 
Bring  me  something  to  eat  and  a  glass  of  wine  if  you 
have  it." 

His  voice  was  gentle,  but  there  was  something  of  com- 
mand in  his  manner.  The  woman  left  the  room,  and  as 
soon  as  he  was  alone  he  walked  at  once  to  the  window  and 
leaned  out,  looking  down  at  the  narrow  canal.  The  black 
water  lay  quiet,  and  opposite  him  rose  the  heavy  mass  of 
the  palace,  turning  its  front  to  the  other  street  and  show- 
ing him  only  a  few  dark  windows.  A  narrow  door  opened 
almost  under  his  window  and  a  black  gondola  lay  chained  ' 
to  the  step. 

All  this  seemed  to  please  the  stranger  very  much,  particu- 
larly the  fact  that  his  other  window  looked  out  upon  a  blank 
wall,  with  no  vis-a-vis  to  spy  upon  him.  Below  was  a 
narrow  courtyard,  which  seemed  abandoned  entirely  to  cats, 
rats,  and  birds  of  the  night.  A  light  from  the  hall  bright- 
ened the  room  as  the  door  opened  and  the  little  widow  en- 
tered, bearing  a  candle.  Behind  her  was  her  pretty  young 
daughter,  Marietta,  carrying  a  tray  upon  which  were  bread, 
cold  meat,  fresh  figs,  and  a  half-filled  bottle  of  wine.  As 
the  girl  set  the  tray  down  upon  the  table  she  _  whispered 

39 


German  Mystery  Stories 

to  her  mother :  "  What  a  queer  face  he  has !  He  looks 
like  a  new  house  in  winter,  when  snow  has  fallen  upon  the 
roof." 

"  Be  quiet,  foolish  child,"  whispered  the  mother  quickly. 
"  White  hairs  are  oftentimes  false  witnesses.  The  gentle- 
man is  ill.  Go  and  fetch  the  water  now.  He  is  very  tired 
and  will  want  to  go  to  sleep."  During  these  whisperings 
the  stranger  had  sat  by  the  window,  resting  his  head  in  his 
hands.  When  he  looked  up,  he  scarcely  seemed  to  notice 
the  presence  of  the  pretty  girl,  in  spite  of  her  polite  cour- 
tesy. 

"  Come  and  eat,"  said  the  widow.  "  The  figs  are  fresh 
and  the  ham  is  tender.  This  is  a  good  wine  which  the 
Doge's  own  cellar  keeper  sold  to  my  husband.  You  have 
traveled  much,  sir — have  you  perchance  met  my  husband 
anywhere,  Orso  Danieli  ?  " 

The  stranger  had  poured  out  a  glass  of  wine  and  taken 
up  one  of  the  figs.  "  Good  woman,"  he  replied,  "  I  have 
never  been  far  from  Brescia,  and  know  no  one  of  the  name 
you  mention." 

Marietta  had  left  the  room,  and  her  young  voice  was 
heard  trilling  a  cheerful  song  as  she  ran  down  the  stairs. 
"  Just  hear  that  child ! "  exclaimed  Madame  Giovanna. 
"  She  would  rather  dance  and  sing  all  day  than  do  any- 
thing else.  And  it's  ill  singing  here  in  Venice,  where  they 
say  it's  a  good  thing  the  fishes  are  dumb,  because  of, the 
terrible  things  they  might  tell.  But  her  father  was  just 
like  that.  My  Orso  was  the  best  workman  in  Murano— 
where  they  make  the  colored  glass.  They  say  you  can't 
find  it  anywhere  else  in  the  world.  He  had  a  gay  heart, 
and  he  said  to  me  one  day,  '  Giovanna,'  he  said,  '  the  air 
here  chokes  me.  Just  yesterday  they  hung  a  man  because 
he  dared  to  talk  against  the  Council  of  Ten.  Therefore, 
Giovanna/  said  he,  '  I'm  off  for  France.  I  know  my  work, 
and  just  as  soon  as  I've  earned  enough,  you  and  the  child 
can  follow  me.'  He  laughed  when  he  kissed  me  good-by, 
but  I  wept,  sir.  Then  a  year  later,  sir,  what  do  you  suppose 
happened?  The  Signoria  sent  to  me  that  I  should  write 

40 


Paul  Heyse 

him  he  must  come  back  at  once.  No  workman  from  Mu- 
rano  must  dare  to  carry  his  skill  and  his  knowledge  into 
another  country,  they  said.  He  laughed  at  the  letter,  but 
one  morning  they  dragged  me  out  of  my  bed,  and  took  me 
with  the  child  to  the  lead  roofs — then  they  told  me  to  write 
him  again  and  tell  him  they  would  keep  me  there  till  he 
came  himself.  After  that  he  wrote  that  he  was  coming. 
But  I  watched  and  watched,  weeks  and  months,  and  oh, 
sir!  my  heart  grew  heavy  and  my  head  was  sick — for  it's 
hell  out  there  under  the  lead  roofs.  And  in  the  third  month 
they  let  us  out  and  sent  us  home,  and  told  me  that  my  Orso 
had  died  of  fever  in  Milan.  Others  told  me  that,  too — but 
I  know  the  Signoria.  Dead?  Does  a  man  die  when  he 
knows  his  wife  and  child  are  waiting  for  him  under  the 
lead  roofs?" 

"  And  what  do  you  think  has  happened  to  your  hus- 
band ?  "  asked  the  stranger. 

She  turned  her  eyes  on  him  with  a  look  which  reminded 
him  afresh  of  the  weeks  she  had  spent  under  the  dreaded 
"  lead  roofs."  "  Many  a  man  lives  and  does  not  come 
back,"  she  said.  "  And  many  a  man  is  dead  and  yet  he 
comes  back.  But  it's  best  that  I  talk  no  more  about  it. 
How  can  I  know  that  you  may  not  repeat  to  the  Tribunal 
what  I  am  saying?  You  look  like  an  honest  man,  but  we 
trust  no  one  in  Venice  to-day." 

There  was  a  pause.  The  stranger  had  pushed  back  his 
plate  and  was  listening  attentively.  "  I  cannot  blame  you 
if  you  will  not  tell  me  your  secret/'  he  said.  "  But  how 
comes  it,  my  good  woman,  that  you  do  not  rebel? — you 
and  all  the  others  in  Venice  who  have  suffered  so  much  at 
the  hands  of  this  Tribunal?  I  have  troubled  myself  little 
with  political  questions,  but  I  have  heard  that  only  a  year 
ago  there  was  an  uprising  against  the  Secret  Tribunal,  an 
uprising  led  by  a  member  of  the  nobility.  Then,  finally, 
when  the  disturbance  was  quelled  and  the  might  of  the 
secret  judges  stronger  than  ever,  why  then  did  the  people 
rejoice  and  heap  scorn  upon  the  nobility?  Why  was  there 
no  one  brave  enough  to  protest  when  the  Inquisitors  sent 


German  Mystery  Stories 

their  rash  enemy  into  exile  in  Verona  ?  I  know  little  about 
it,  as  I  have  said — but  I  think  it  strange  that  the  people  of 
Venice  should  complain  of  their  tyrants,  and  then  rejoice 
at  the  defeat  of  those  who  would  put  an  end  to  the 
tyranny  ?  " 

The  widow  shook  her  head.  "  Then  you  never  saw 
him,  the  Advocate  Signer  Angelo  Querini,  he  whom  they 
exiled?  I  saw  him,  sir,  and  many  other  poor  people  have 
seen  him,  and  we  all  know  him  for  an  honest  gentleman 
and  a  great  scholar.  But  we  could  see  also  that  he  was 
a  nobleman,  and  that  all  that  he  did  and  said  against  the 
Tribunal,  he  did  and  said  not  for  the  poor  people  but  for 
the  great  gentlemen.  But  it's  all  the  same  to  the  sheep, 
sir,  whether  they  are  slaughtered  by  the  butcher  or  eaten 
by  the  wolf.  And  therefore,  the  people  rejoiced  when  the 
big  thief  hung  the  little  one." 

The  stranger  seemed  about  to  answer,  but  contented 
himself  with  a  short  laugh.  Marietta  reentered,  bearing  a 
pitcher  of  water  and  a  little  pan  of  sharp-smelling  incense, 
which  she  held  to  the  walls  and  ceilings  to  kill  the  flies 
hanging  there  in  myriads.  The  women  chattered  gayly, 
but  their  new  guest  did  not  seem  interested.  He  bade  them 
a  curt  farewell  when  they  finally  turned  to  leave  him,  and 
when  alone  he  sat  for  a  long  time  motionless  at  his  table. 
The  shadows  deepened  in  his  face,  and  his  whole  figure 
was  so  quiet  one  might  have  thought  him  dead,  had  it  not 
been  for  the  wild  fire  in  his  eyes. 

The  clock  from  a  neighboring  church,  striking  the 
eleventh  hour,  aroused  him  from  his  thoughts.  The  sharp- 
smelling  smoke  of  the  incense  still  hung  about  the  low 
ceiling;  Andrea  opened  the  window  to  clear  the  air.  He 
saw  a  light  in  one  of  the  windows  opposite,  and  through 
the  opening  of  a  white  curtain  he  could  see  a  girl  seated 
at  a  table  eating  and  drinking.  Her  face  had  a  care-free 
and  light-hearted  expression,  although  she  was  no  longer  in 
Jier  first  youth.  There  was  something  studied  in  the  dis- 
order of  her  dress  and  hair,  something  that  was  self-con- 
scious but  not  unpleasing.  She  must  have  noticed  that  the 

42 


Paul  Heyse 

room  opposite  was  occupied,  but  she  continued  her  supper 
calmly.  Then  she  set  the  empty  dishes  aside  and  moved 
the  table  with  the  lamp  against  the  wall,  that  the  light  might 
fall  on  a  tall  mirror  in  the  background.  Whereupon  she 
began  to  try  on,  one  after  the  other,  a  number  of  fancy 
costumes  which  lay  thrown  about  on  the  chairs.  Her  back 
was  turned  to  the  man  opposite,  but  he  could  see  her  pic- 
ture clearly  in  the  mirror.  And  he  could  also  see  that  the 
girl  was  watching  his  reflection  sharply.  As  he  remained 
motionless  and  she  did  not  see  the  expected  signs  of  ap- 
plause for  her  appearance  in  her  changing  garb,  she  grew 
impatient.  She  took  up  a  large  red  turban  on  which  a 
heron's  feather  was  fastened  by  a  shining  clasp.  The  vivid 
coloring  looked  well  with  her  olive  skin,  and  she  made  a 
deep  bow  to  herself  in  the  mirror.  Then  she  turned  sud- 
denly and  came  to  the  window,  pushing  back  the  curtain. 

"  Good  evening,  Monsu,"  she  said  cheerily.  "  You  are  my 
new  neighbor,  I  perceive.  I  hope  that  you  will  not  play 
the  flute  all  night  as  your  predecessor  did,  keeping  me 
awake  thereby." 

"  Fair  neighbor,"  answered  the  stranger,  "  I  am  not 
likely  to  disturb  you  with  any  sort  of  music.  I  am  a  sick 
man  who  is  thankful  if  he  is  not  disturbed  himself." 

"  You  are  ill  ?  "  answered  the  girl.    "  Are  you  rich  ?  " 

"No.     Why  do  you  ask?" 

"  Because  it  is  very  sad  to  be  ill  and  poor  at  the  same 
time.  Who  are  you  ?  " 

"  My  name  is  Andrea  Delfin.  I  have  been  a  scribe  of  the 
court  in  Brescia,  and  have  come  here  to  take  service  with  a 
notary." 

The  answer  seemed  to  disappoint  her.  "  And  who  are 
you,  fair  maiden  ?  "  Andrea  continued,  with  an  interest  in 
his  tone  belied  by  the  expression  of  his  face.  "  It  will  be 
a  comfort  for  me  in  my  suffering,  to  know  that  you  are  so 
near  me." 

This  seemed  to  be  what  the  girl  was  looking  for,  and  she 
smiled  as  if  pleased.  "  To  you  I  am  the  Princess  Smeral- 
dina,"  she  said,  "  and  I  will  allow  you  to  admire  me  from 

43 


German  Mystery  Stories 

a  distance.  When  I  put  on  this  turban  it  is  a  sign  that 
I  am  willing  to  chat  with  you.  For  I  find  many  hours 
hanging  weary  on  my  hands  here.  You  must  know/'  she 
continued  in  a  changed  tone,  "  that  my  mistress,  the  coun- 
tess, will  not  permit  me  to  have  a  lover,  although  she 
changes  her  own  lovers  more  often  than  she  changes  her 
gowns.  If  it  were  not  that  occasionally  some  pleasing 
stranger  takes  your  room " 

"  Who  is  the  present  lover  of  your  mistress  ?  "  interrupted 
Andrea.  "Does  she  receive  the  high  nobility  of  Venice? 
Are  the  foreign  ambassadors  among  her  visitors  ?  " 

"  They  come  to  her  masked,  usually,"  answered  Smeral- 
dina.  "  But  I  know  that  young  Gritti  is  her  favorite  now ; 
she  loves  him  more  than  I  have  ever  seen  her  love  anyone 
since  I  have  been  with  her.  She  loves  him  more  than  she 
does  the  Austrian  ambassador,  who  pays  court  to  her  until 
the  others  laugh  at  him.  Do  you  know  my  countess?  She 
is  very  beautiful." 

"  I  am  a  stranger  here,  child.    I  have  never  seen  her." 

The  girl  laughed  a  sly  laugh.  "  She  paints  her  face,  al- 
though she  is  not  yet  thirty.  But  you  can  see  her  easily 
if  you  wish  to.  I  will  arrange  it  some  time.  But  good- 
night now.  I  must  go  to  her." 

She  shut  the  window.  "  Poor — and  ill — "  she  said  to 
herself  as  she  drew  the  curtain.  "  Well,  it  is  better  than 
nothing." 

The  man  opposite  had  closed  his  window  also.  "  I  might 
find  that  useful,"  he  said  to  himself,  with  an  expression 
which  showed  that  there  was  no  thought  of  love  in  his  mind. 

He  unpacked  his  bag,  and  laid  the  few  articles  of  cloth- 
ing and  the  book  or  two  which  it  contained  in  a  cupboard 
in  the  wall.  One  of  the  books  fell  from  his  hand,  and  the 
stone  on  which  it  struck  gave  forth  a  hollow  tone.  Andrea 
put  out  his  light  at  once,  bolted  his  door,  and  commenced 
to-  examine  the  floor  by  the  pale  glimmer  that  came  in 
through  the  window.  In  a  few  moments  he  found  that  it 
was  possible  to  raise  the  stone,  and  beneath  it  he  discovered 
a  hole  of  considerable  size.  He  removed  his  outer  coat  and 

44 


Paul  Heyst 

unbuckled  a  heavy  belt  with  well-filled  pockets,  which  had 
been  fastened  round  his  body.  He  was  about  to  put  it  in 
the  hole  when  he  suddenly  halted.  "  No,"  he  exclaimed, 
"this  may  be  a  trap  laid  by  the  police.  It  is  much  too 
inviting  to  be  safe." 

He  replaced  the  stone  and  sought  for  another,  safer, 
hiding  place  for  his  secrets.  The  window  looking  out  on 
the  blind  alley  was  barred,  but  the  openings  were  large 
enough  to  admit  of  the  passage  of  an  arm.  He  felt  about 
on  the  outer  wall  and  discovered  a  tiny  hole  just  under  the 
sill.  It  could  not  be  seen  from  below,  and  the  window 
ledge  hid  it  from  above.  He  dug  at  the  hole  noiselessly 
with  his  dagger,  and  had  soon  widened  it  sufficiently  to  lay 
his  belt  in  it.  He  examined  it  all  closely  when  his  work 
was  done,  to  see  that  there  was  nothing  of  it  visible,  and 
then  closed  the  window  again.  An  hour  later  he  was  fast 
asleep,  his  lips  tight  set,  as  if  fearing  to  reveal  his  secrets 
even  in  a  dream. 

The  following  day  the  newcomer  arose  early.  He 
paused  on  the  stair,  where  his  landlady  sat  at  her  accus- 
tomed place,  just  long  enough  to  inquire  the  way  to  the 
offices  of  several  notaries  whose  names  had  been  given 
him  by  a  friend  in  Brescia.  The  widow  looked  at  her  guest 
in  curiosity.  He  seemed  so  blind  to  everything  about  him, 
even  to  the  young  beauty  of  her  Marietta.  But  in  spite  of 
his  gray  hair  and  the  illness  of  which  he  had  spoken,  his 
step  was  quick  and  firm.  His  chest  was  deep  and  the 
color  of  his  face  was  clear  and  youthful.  Many  a  woman 
looked  after  him  as  he  passed  through  the  streets,  although 
he  did  not  seem  to  notice  them  in  return. 

Although  Andrea  had  been  so  careful  in  asking  direc- 
tions from  Madame  Giovanna,  when  once  out  of  his  own 
street  he  threaded  the  net  of  alleys  and  canals  as  if  quite 
at  home  there.  Several  hours  passed  in  a  vain  search  for 
work.  In  spite  of  the  recommendations  he  had  brought 
from  Brescia,  and  in  spite  of  the  modesty  of  his  manner, 
there  was  a  certain  look  of  pride  in  his  carriage  which 

45 


German  Mystery  Stories 

seemed  to  say  that  he  considered  the  work  he  sought  be- 
neath his  dignity.  Finally,  he  found  a  position  with  a  very 
low  salary  in  the  office  of  a  little  notary  in  a  side  street. 
.The  haste  with  which  he  consented  to  take  the  position 
made  the  owner  of  the  office  think  that  his  new  clerk  was 
probably  one  of  the  many  impoverished  noblemen  now 
trying  to  earn  a  livelihood  by  their  own  labor. 

Andrea  seemed  quite  satisfied  with  the  result  of  his 
morning's  work  and  entered  the  nearest  inn,  a  haunt  of  the 
poorer  classes,  to  take  his  dinner.  He  sat  in  a  corner  near 
the  door  and  ate  the  simple  food  without  complaint,  al- 
though he  did  not  seem  to  care  for  the  wine  after  he  had 
tasted  it.  He  was  about  to  pay  for  his  food  when  his 
neighbor,  whom  he  had  not  noticed  hitherto,  spoke  to  him. 
This  was  a  man  of  about  thirty  years  old,  with  curly  blond 
hair,  wearing  the  usual  Venetian  costume  of  quiet  black, 
a  garb  which  did  not  at  once  betray  his  Jewish  descent. 
He  wore  heavy  golden  rings  in  his  ears  and  jeweled 
buckles  on  his  shoes,  while  his  linen  was  far  from  clean 
and  his  clothes  were  unbrushed. 

. "  You  do  not  seem  to  like  the  wine,  sir,"  he  said  in  a 
low  tone,  turning  to  Andrea.  "  You  have  probably  come 
here  by  mistake.  They  are  not  accustomed  to  serving 
guests  of  rank  in  this  house." 

"  I  beg  your  pardon,  sir,"  replied  Andrea  quietly. 
"  What  do  you  know  of  my  rank  ?  " 

"  I  can  see  by  the  way  you  eat  that  you  do  not  be- 
long to  the  class  of  those  who  come  here  daily,"  said  the 
Jew. 

Andrea  looked  at  him  sharply,  then  a  sudden  thought 
seemed  to  change  his  mood  and  impel  him  to  meet  the 
other  with  more  friendliness.  "  You  are  a  good  judge  of 
men,"  he  said.  "  I  have  known  better  days,  although  I  am 
the  son  of  a  small  merchant  and  have  studied  law  with- 
out any  great  success.  But  my  father  became  bankrupt, 
and  a  poor  scribe  and  lawyer's  apprentice  has  no  right  to 
expect  anything  better  than  he  can  find  in  such  a  place  as 
this." 

46 


Paul  Heyse 

"  A  scholar  has  always  a  right  to  demand  respect,"  said 
the  other  with  a  polite  smile.  "  I  should  be  very  glad 
to  be  of  service  to  you  if  I  could.  I  have  always  desired 
the  company  of  gentlemen  of  learning.  Might  I  suggest 
that  you  drink  a  glass  of  better  wine  with  me  ?  " 

"  I  cannot  afford  better  wine,"  said  the  other  indiffer- 
ently. 

"  I  would  look  upon  it  as  an  honor  to  be  allowed  to  show 
you  our  Venetian  hospitality " 

Andrea  was  about  to  put  an  end  to  the  conversation 
when  he  noticed  the  landlord  beckoning  to  him  from  the 
back  of  the  room.  He  noticed  also  that  the  other  guests 
seemed  much  interested  in  his  conversation  with  the  Jew. 
With  the  excuse  that  he  must  first  pay  his  account,  he 
left  his  chair  and  walked  to  the  table  where  sat  the  land- 
lord. The  old  man  whispered  to  him,  "  Oh,  sir,  be  care- 
ful! That  is  a  dangerous  man.  The  Inquisitors  pay  him 
for  prying  out  the  secrets  of  all  strangers  who  come  here. 
I  have  to  endure  his  presence  to  avoid  trouble,  but  I  can 
at  least  warn  you" 

Andrea  thanked  him,  returned  to  his  place  and  said  to 
his  officious  neighbor,  "  I  will  go  with  you,  sir,  if  you 
desire."  Then  in  a  lower  tone,  "  I  can  see  that  they  take 
you  for  a  spy  here.  Let  us  continue  our  conversation  else- 
where." 

The  Jew's  face  paled.  "  By  God !  "  he  said,  "  they  wrong 
me.  My  business  leads  me  in  and  out  of  many  houses; 
but  what  do  I  care  for  the  secrets  that  may  be  hidden 
there?  However,  I  cannot  blame  these  people  for  their 
watchfulness.  The  bloodhounds  of  the  Signoria  are  in 
every  street." 

"  But  in  my  opinion,  Ser —    But  what  is  your  name?  " 

"  Samuele." 

"  In  my  opinion,  Ser  Samuele,  you  think  too  hardly  of 
those  who  are  working  for  the  good  of  the  State,  in  that 
they  discover  all  conspiracies  against  the  Republic  and 
frustrate  them  before  they  become  dangerous." 

The  Jew  stood  still  and  caught  at  the  other's  arm. 

47 


German  Mystery  Stories 

"Why  did  I  not  recognize  you  at  once?    Since  when  are 
you  in  the  service  ?  " 

"  I  ?    Since  day  after  to-morrow." 

"  Are  you  mocking  me,  sir?  " 

"  Most  assuredly  not.  It  is  my  serious  intention  to  take 
service  in  those  ranks.  I  am  very  poor  as  I  told  you,  and 
the  employment  I  have  been  able  to  obtain  is  miserably 
paid.  I  wish  to  better  my  condition." 

"Your  confidence  honors  me,"  said  the  Jew  thought- 
fully. "  But  the  gentlemen  do  not  like  to  take  strangers 
into  their  service,  until  they  have  gone  through  with  a 
trial  apprenticeship.  If  my  purse  can  be  of  any  service 
to  you  during  this  time — I  ask  but  very  low  rates  of  in- 
terest from  my  friends." 

"I  am  grateful  to  you,  but  your  protection  and  your 
recommendation  are  of  greater  service  to  me.  This  is  my 
house,  and  I  must  leave  you  now,  for  I  have  much  work 
to  do.  When  I  am  needed,  remember  me :  Andrea  Delfin, 
Calle  della  Cortesia." 

Andrea  could  not  mount  the  stairs  to  reach  his  room 
without  passing  his  little  landlady,  who,  of  course,  was 
most  anxious  to  know  what  he  had  done.  She  was  far 
more  discontented  than  he  seemed  to  be  at  the  position 
he  had  found.  And  she  was  much  worried  that  he  would 
not  return  to  the  streets,  bright  with  sunshine,  and  enjoy 
the  concert  in  the  neighboring  square.  Even  little  Mari- 
etta, when  she  had  brought  him  the  supper  he  asked  for 
later  in  the  day,  was  too  much  abashed  by  the  gravity  of 
his  expression  to  chatter  as  was  her  wont.  "  Oh,  mother," 
she  exclaimed,  as  she  returned  to  the  staircase,  "  I  don't 
want  to  go  into  his  room  again.  He  has  eyes  like  the 
martyr  in  the  picture  in  the  chapel.  I  can't  laugh  when  he 
looks  at  me  like  that." 

But  little  Marietta  would  have  been  very  much  surprised 
if  she  could  have  seen  their  guest  several  hours  later.  Un- 
der cover  of  the  night,  he  stood  at  his  window  in  lively 
conversation  with  the  maid  opposite. 

"  Fair  Smeraldina,"  he  said,  "  I  could  scarce  await  the 


Paul  Heyse 

hour  when  I  should  see  you  again.  As  I  passed  the  gold- 
smith's shop,  I  thought  of  you  and  bought  you  this  brooch. 
It  is  not  fine  enough  for  you,  but  at  least  it  is  more  real 
than  the  clasp  on  your  turban.  Open  the  window  and  I 
will  throw  it  over,  in  the  hope  of  going  the  same  way 
myself  soon." 

"  You  are  very  gallant,"  smiled  the  girl,  catching  the  lit- 
tle package.  "  And  what  good  taste  you  have !  I  am  glad 
of  anything  to  make  me  rejoice  to-day.  It  has  been  a  hard 
day  for  us,  for  the  countess  is  in  a  very  evil  humor.  Her 
lover,  the  son  of  Senator  Gritti,  has  not  been  here  for  four 
and  twenty  hours.  She  sent  to  his  house,  but  he  is  miss- 
ing from  there  also  and  it  is  feared  that  he  has  been  im- 
prisoned. The  countess  will  see  no  one.  She  lies  on  her 
sofa,  weeping,  and  struck  at  me  when  I  would  comfort 
her." 

"  Does  no  one  know  of  what  the  young  man  is  ac- 
cused?" 

"  I  would  be  willing  to  take  a  vow  of  eternal  chastity,  sir, 
if  that  poor  boy  is  found  ever  to  have  conspired  against 
the  State.  He  was  only  three  and  twenty,  and  he  thought 
of  nothing  but  the  countess  or  perhaps  his  game  of  cards. 
But  the  gentlemen  of  the  Inquisition  can  make  a  hang- 
man's rope  out  of  a  cobweb." 

"  Speak  more  cautiously  when  you  mention  the  authori- 
ties," said  Andrea  gently.  "  The  wisdom  of  our  fathers 
gave  them  the  power,  it  is  not  for  us  to  doubt  it." 

The  girl  looked  at  him  to  see  whether  he  was  in  earnest, 
but  it  was  not  easy  to  read  his  features.  "  Be  not  so  grave, 
I  pray  you,"  she  said.  "  I  find  it  very  stupid.  You  have 
been  here  but  for  a  short  time,  therefore  you  still  have 
some  respect  for  these  hangmen,  who  may,  perhaps,  look 
quite  reverend  from  a  distance.  But  I've  seen  them  here 
at  the  card  table  and  I  can  assure  you  that  they're  just  like 
the  rest  of  us." 

"  That  may  be,  my  child,"  he  answered.  "  But  they 
have  the  power,  and  it  is  not  wise  for  a  poor  citizen  like 
myself  to  utter  such  speeches  at  an  open  window." 

49 


German  Mystery  Stories 

"  You  may  say  what  you  like  here,"  said  the  maid. 
"  There  are  few  windows  looking  out  on  the  canal  and 
the  rooms  are  empty  at  this  hour.  On  your  side  there  is 
nothing  but  a  blank  wall.  But  will  you  not  come  over 
for  an  hour  and  drink  a  glass  of  wine  with  me?  I  have 
a  board  here  which  will  make  a  bridge  between  our  two 
windows.  Are  you  easily  dizzy?" 

"  No,  indeed,  fair  friend.  Patience  for  a  moment  and 
then  I  am  ready  to  come  to  you."  Andrea  put  out  the 
light,  bolted  the  door  of  his  room,  listened  a  moment,  and 
then  went  to  the  window.  Smeraldina  had  her  improvised 
bridge  ready  and  stood  beckoning  to  him.  He  sprang 
up  onto  the  window  sill,  looked  down  at  the  black  water 
below  with  a  calm  eye,  and  with  a  single  step  had  crossed 
the  space.  She  caught  him  in  her  arms  as  he  sprang  down 
on  the  other  side  and  her  lips  touched  his  cheek.  But 
he  assumed  a  modest  demeanor,  as  if  awed  by  the  respect 
due  his  friend  in  her  own  home.  The  girl  drew  in  the 
plank,  brought  cards  and  wine  from  a  cupboard,  and  the 
two  sat  down  to  lively  chatter. 

Smeraldina  had  just  poured  herself  the  second  glass  of 
wine  and  was  gently  scolding  her  guest  for  not  drinking 
more,  when  a  bell  shrilled  out  from  somewhere  in  the 
house.  The  girl  threw  down  her  cards  angrily  and  rose 
from  her  chair.  "  See  how  annoying  it  is,  I  haven't  an 
hour  to  myself!  But  be  patient  for  a  few  moments,,  I  will 
return  as  quickly  as  I  can." 

Left  alone,  Andrea  went  to  the  window  and  looked  care- 
fully at  the  space  of  wall  between  his  own  window  and 
the  canal.  It  was  not  more  than  twenty  feet  in  height  and 
the  plaster  had  become  loosened  in  so  many  places  that 
the  naked  stones  afforded  sufficient  foothold  for  a  good 
climber.  The  little  door  of  the  palace  was  immediately 
under  the  window  at  which  he  stood,  and  between  the  boat 
lying  chained  there  and  the  wall  opposite  there  was  only 
just  room  for  a  second  gondola  to  pass. 

"  I  could  not  have  arranged  it  better  myself,"  he  mur- 
mured, as  he  looked  down  thoughtfully  at  the  dark  waters 

50 


Paul  Heyse 

flowing  between  the  blank  walls.  In  the  distance  a  pale 
light  appeared,  moving  nearer,  and  in  a  little  while  the 
noise  of  oars  floated  up  to  him.  A  gondola  came  slowly 
down  the  stream  and  halted  at  the  door  below.  The 
listener  at  the  window  drew  back,  but  he  could  see  a  man 
step  from  the  boat,  and  he  heard  three  heavy  blows  of  the 
knocker  beneath.  From  within  the  house  a  voice  asked 
who  it  was  that  demanded  entrance. 

"  Open  !  in  the  name  of  the  Mighty  Council  of  the  Ten !  " 
was  the  answer.  The  door  was  opened  and  closed  again  be- 
hind the  nightly  visitor. 

A  few  moments  later,  Smeraldina  hurried  back  into  her 
room  in  great  excitement.  "  Did  you  hear  it  ?  "  she  whis- 
pered. "  Oh !  they  have  come  to  take  our  countess 
away ! — They  will  kill  her ! — and  who  will  pay  me  the  six 
months'  wages  she  owes  me?  " 

"  Be  calm,  dear  child,"  he  answered.  "  You  will  find 
good  friends  who  will  not  forsake  you.  But  I  will  be 
very  grateful  to  you  if  you  could  hide  me  somewhere  where 
I  might  hear  what  the  Mighty  Council  has  to  say  to  your 
mistress.  I  am  a  stranger  here  and  it  would  interest  me 
greatly." 

The  girl  thought  a  moment.  Then  she  said,  "  I  could 
do  it  easily — the  hiding  place  is  a  good  one — but  suppose 
it  should  be  discovered?" 

"  I  will  take  it  all  upon  myself,  my  dear,  and  no  one 
shall  know  who  let  me  into  the  house.  Here  is  money, 
in  case  I  may  not  be  able  to  show  my  gratitude  to  you 
later.  But  if  all  goes  well,  you  shall  see  that  I  am  will- 
ing to  divide  the  little  I  have  with  such  a  kind  friend." 

She  slipped  the  money  into  her  pocket,  opened  the  door 
and  looked  out  into  the  blackness  of  the  corridor. 

"  Take  off  your  shoes,"  she  whispered.  "  Then  give  me 
your  hand  and  follow  wherever  I  may  lead  you.  Every- 
one in  the  house  is  asleep  except  the  doorkeeper." 

She  extinguished  her  lamp  and  slipped  through  the  cor- 
ridor, drawing  him  after  her.  They  passed  through  sev- 
eral dark  rooms,  then  entered  a  large  dancing  hall,  dimly 

51 


German  Mystery  Stories 

lighted  by  a  pale  glimmer  falling  through  the  three  high 
windows.  On  one  side  a  staircase  led  up  to  a  balcony 
for  the  musicians.  "  Have  a  care,"  warned  the  girl.  "  The 
steps  creak.  I  will  leave  you  alone  now.  You  will  find  a 
crack  in  the  wall  up  there,  through  which  you  can  look 
down  into  the  countess's  reception  room.  But  do  not 
move  from  your  place  until  I  come  for  you." 

She  left  him  alone  and  he  mounted  the  few  steps  and 
felt  along  the  wall  until  he  came  to  the  crack.  The  neigh- 
boring room  was  separated  from  the  great  hall  by  a  wooden 
partition  only,  as  in  earlier  days  the  two  had  been  one. 
Andrea  knelt  down  and  put  his  eye  to  the  crack  in  the 
wall,  through  which  a  ray  of  light  fell.  Uncomfortable  as 
his  position  was,  there  were  many  who  would  have  been 
glad  to  change  with  him.  A  large  silver  candelabrum  stood 
on  the  table,  beside  the  divan  upon  which  the  countess 
lay.  She  was  clad  in  a  loose  gown,  which  showed  that  she 
had  not  expected  visitors  at  this  hour.  Her  rich  red-blond 
hair  was  caught  up  carelessly,  her  eyes,  although  reddened 
with  weeping,  still  shone  brilliantly.  The  man  who  sat 
opposite  her  in  an  armchair,  turning  his  back  to  Andrea, 
seemed  to  be  watching  her  sharply.  He  sat  motionless, 
listening  quietly  to  the  angry  words  of  the  beautiful 
woman. 

"  I  am  astonished,"  said  the  countess,  in  a  bitter  tone. 
"  I  am  astonished  that  you  dare  to  show  yourself  here,  now 
that  you  have  so  shamefully  broken  all  your  solemn  prom- 
ises to  me.  Is  it  for  this  that  I  have  done  you  so  many 
services?  What  have  you  done  with  him,  with  my  poor 
friend,  the  only  one  I  cared  for — and  whom  you  promised 
to  spare,  no  matter  what  happened?  Was  there  no  other 
that  you  could  find  if  your  prisons  are  empty?  Give  him 
back  to  me  or  I  will  break  off  all  relations  with  you — I  will 
leave  Venice  and  follow  my  lover  in  his  exile.  You  will 
soon  see  what  you  have  lost  by  this  betrayal" 

"  You  forget,  countess,"  said  the  man,  "  that  we  have 
means  to  prevent  your  flight,  or  to  find  you  wherever  you 
might  go.  Young  Gritti  deserved  his  punishment.  In  spite 

52 


Paul  Heyse 

of  our  warnings,  he  continued  to  be  seen  everywhere  with 
the  secretary  of  the  Austrian  Ambassador,  a  young  man 
who  knows  much  too  much.  It  was  a  sign  of  our  paternal 
kindness  toward  him  that  we  exiled  him  before  he  became 
more  guilty.  But  we  know  what  we  owe  you,  Leonora. 
And  therefore  I  have  been  sent  to  you  to  tell  you  of  this, 
and  to  show  you  how  all  can  be  made  good  again  if  you 
will  only  be  sensible." 

"  I  am  tired  of  taking  orders  from  you,"  she  said  hastily. 
"  I  see  now  that  it  is  impossible  to  have  faith  in  you ;  I 
see  now  that  it  is  useless  to  expect  any  return  from  you 
for  all  I^have  done.  I  want  no  more  of  you.  I  need  you 
no  longer." 

"  I  am  only  sorry/'  he  interrupted,  "  that  we  still  need 
you.  You  will  understand,  Leonora,  that  it  will  not  be 
possible  for  us  to  allow  you,  who  know  so  many  secrets 
of  the  Republic,  to  travel  in  foreign  parts.  You  might  fall 
a  victim  to  the  disease  of  the  times,  the  desire  to  write 
memoirs.  Venice  and  you  are  still  inseparable,  and  you 
should  by  this  time  understand  that  it  will  not  take  us 
long  to  reconcile  you." 

"  I  want  no  reconciliation,"  she  cried  passionately,  with 
tears  in  her  eyes.  "  What  would  it  mean  to  me  ? — I  want 
nothing — I  know  nothing — but  the  one  thought  that  I 
have  lost  my  poor  Gritti !  " 

"  You  shall  have  him  back,  Leonora.  But  not  at  once, 
for  his  sudden  return  would  interfere  with  our  plans." 

"  And  how  long  must  I  wait  ?  "  she  asked. 

"  That  depends  upon  you,"  he  answered.  "  How  much 
time  do  you  need  to  bring  a  young  man  to  your  feet  ?  One 
who  has  a  reputation  for  virtue  ?  " 

A  gleam  of  interest  brightened  the  despair  of  her  face. 
"  Of  whom  are  you  speaking?"  she  asked. 

"  I  mean  the  young  German  who  was  Gritti's  friend,  the 
secretary  of  the  Viennese  minister.  You  know  him  ?  " 

"  I  saw  him  at  the  last  regatta." 

"  We  have  reason  to  believe  that  he  is  in  communication 
with  our  opponents,  and  that  he  is  utilizing  the  discontent 

53 


German  Mystery  Stories 

left  by  Querini's  banishment  for  the  good  of  his  own  sov- 
ereign. But  he  is  very  clever  and  we  can  obtain  no  proofs. 
For  this  we  turn  to  you,  Leonora;  we  want  you  to  give 
us  the  key  to  the  secrets  of  this  well-guarded  mind.  We 
could  hope  for  nothing  from  you  as  long  as  Gritti  was 
here.  His  exile  leaves  you  free  and  gives  you  an  excuse 
for  a  nearer  acquaintance  with  his  friend.  The  rest  I  leave 
to  the  power  of  your  charms,  which  are  never  greater  than 
where  they  meet  resistance." 

She  lay  silent  for  a  few  moments ;  her  eyes  brightening, 
her  beautiful  mouth  curving  to  a  smile.  "  Then  you  prom- 
ise to  call  Gritti  back  at  once,  when  I  have  handed  the 
other  over  to  you  ?  " 

"  We  promise." 

"  You  will  not  have  to  wait  long  then."  She  stood  up 
and  paced  the  room.  Andrea  could  see  her  when  she 
passed  within  the  area  commanded  by  the  crack  at  which 
he  sat.  Her  large,  dark  eyes,  glancing  upward,  rested  on 
his  hiding  place.  He  started  involuntarily  as  if  discovered. 
The  man  in  the  armchair  stood  up  also,  but  seemed  to 
be  blind  to  her  beauty,  for  he  continued  to  talk  in  a  busi- 
nesslike tone : 

"  And  one  thing  more,  Leonora,  the  sum  which  we  still 
owe  you  for  the  supper  you  gave  Candiano " 

She  started  violently  and  changed  color.  "  By  all  the 
saints/'  she  exclaimed,  "  do  not  mention  that  again-?— give 
the  rest  of  the  money  to  the  Church  that  they  may  read 
masses  for  his  soul — and  for  mine.  Whenever  I  hear  that 
name,  it  sounds  in  my  ears  like  the  trumpet  of  the  judg- 
ment day." 

"  You  are  a  child,"  said  the  other.  "  The  responsibility 
for  that  supper  falls  on  us,  not  on  you.  Young  Candiano 
was  guilty  of  treason,  but  his  connections  and  his  high 
rank  compelled  us  to  punish  him  in  secret.  He  died  quietly 
in  his  bed,  and  no  one  could  have  imagined  that  he 
drank  death  here  in  your  house.  Or  have  you  heard  any 
rumors  ?  " 

She  trembled  and  looked  down.  "No,"  she  said;  "but 

54 


Paul  Heyse 

in  the  night  I  awake  with  a  start  and  some  voice  seems 
to  call  to  me,  '  You  should  not  have  done  that — not 
that!'" 

"It  is  your  nerves,  Leonora;  you  must  conquer  them. 
There  is  no  one  left  who  has  the  right  to  inquire  into  his 
death.  His  elder  brother  and  his  sister  perished,  as  you 
know,  by  the  burning  of  their  home.  The  money  is  wait- 
ing for  you  whenever  you  wish  to  send  for  it.  Good  night, 
countess.  I  will  not  keep  you  awake  any  longer.  Rest 
well,  that  the  sun  of  your  beauty  may  shine  cloudless  over 
the  just  and  the  unjust.  Good  night,  Leonora!  " 

He  bowed  to  her  lightly  and  walked  toward  the  door. 
For  a  fleeting  moment  Andrea  could  see  his  cold  features. 
It  was  a  face  without  a  soul  and  without  passion,  illumined 
only  by  the  expression  of  a  mighty  will.  He  put  on  a  mask 
and  threw  a  black  cloak  over  his  shoulder,  then  left  the 
room.  A  moment  later  Andrea  heard  the  girl's  voice  calling 
him  softly.  Like  a  man  who  has  received  a  heavy  blow  he 
staggered  down  from  the  balcony  and  followed  the  maiden 
without  a  word.  Her  room  was  light  again,  the  wine  and 
cards  stood  ready  on  the  table.  But  the  man's  face  was 
darkened  by  heavy  shadows,  so  black  that  it  frightened  even 
Smeraldina's  careless  nature.  "  You  look  as  if  you  had 
seen  a  ghost,"  she  said.  "  Take  a  glass  of  wine  and  tell 
me  what  you  have  heard.  It  passed  off  better  than  we  ex- 
pected." 

"  Oh,  yes,"  he  said,  with  forced  calm.  "  The  Ten  are 
favorably  disposed  toward  your  mistress,  and  you  are  likely 
to  receive  your  wages  very  soon.  But  they  spoke  so  soffly 
that  I  heard  little,  and  I  am  very  tired  from  kneeling  on 
the  hard  boards.  I  will  be  better  able  to  appreciate  your 
kindness  another  time.  To-night  I  must  sleep."  He  sprang 
upon  the  board  which  she  had  laid  across  the  window, 
and  when  he  reached  his  own  room  he  looked  down  into 
the  canal,  at  the  end  of  which  the  light  of  the  disappearing 
gondola  shone  dimly.  He  called  a  good  night  over  to  the 
opposite  window,  and  then  disappeared  into  the  darkness 
of  his  room,  while  Smeraldina  endeavored  in  vain  to  ex- 

55 


German  Mystery  Stories 

plain  to  herself  the  strange  contrasts  in  the  behavior  of 
her  new  friend. 

A  week  passed  and  yet  she  had  made  very  little  advance 
in  the  conquest  of  her  new  neighbor.  One  evening  after 
having  won  the  favor  of  the  doorkeeper,  she  let  him  in  at 
the  front  door,  led  him  through  the  house  to  the  little 
portal  over  the  canal  and  entered  the  gondola  with  him. 
He  handled  the  oars  himself,  rowing  slowly  through  the 
dark  labyrinth  of  water  streets  until  they  reached  the  Grand 
Canal.  But  in  spite  of  the  tete-a-tete  with  Smeraldina, 
he  did  not  seem  to  be  in  a  very  loving  mood,  and  listened 
carelessly  to  her  chattering  comments  on  her  mistress  and 
the  society  in  which  she  moved.  From  them  he  learned 
that  for  the  last  few  days  the  secretary  of  the  Austrian 
Embassy  had  spent  long  hours  with  the  countess.  The 
lady  was  in  a  better  humor,  and  showered  presents  on  her 
handmaiden.  Andrea  listened  so  inattentively  that  the 
girl  did  not  object  when  he  turned  the  boat  and  took  the 
shortest  way  home.  He  drove  the  narrow  gondola  up  to 
the  steps,  threw  the  chain  around  the  post,  and  asked  for 
the  key  which  locked  it.  The  girl  was  already  in  the  door- 
way when  her  companion  called  out  to  her  that  he  had  un- 
fortunately dropped  the  little  key  into  the  water.  This 
seemed  to  annoy  her;  but  with  her  customary  carelessness 
she  comforted  him  with  the  assurance  that  there  was  a 
second  key  somewhere  in  the  house.  As  she  let  him  out 
of  the  front  door  of  the  palace  an  hour  later,  he  touched 
her  cheek  in  a  hasty  kiss  as  he  said  good-by. 

The  next  morning,  he  explained  to  his  landlady  that 
there  was  so  much  work  in  his  new  master's  office  that  he 
had  been  obliged  to  spend  the  night  there.  This  was  the 
only  time  that  he  had  asked  for  the  key  of  the  house. 
Usually  he  came  home  at  twilight,  ate  a  light  supper  and 
retired  early.  His  landlady  sang  his  praises  to  all  her 
neighbors  as  a  model  lodger. 

On  the  morning  of  the  second  Sunday  after  Andrea's 
advent  in  the  widow's  house,  the  little  woman  entered  his 
room  in  great  excitement.  She  was  dressed  in  her  best 

56 


Paid  Heyse 

clothes,  as  if  just  returning  from  church,  but  her  face  was 
drawn  in  emotion.  He  sat  at  his  table  reading,  his  face 
paler  than  usual,  but  his  eye  calm  and  quiet.  "  You  are 
sitting  here  so  quietly,  sir!"  she  exclaimed.  "And  all 
Venice  in  excitement?  Holy  Jesus!  To  think  that  this 
should  happen — and  I  thought  that  nothing  more  could 
occur  here  that  would  surprise  me !  " 

"Of  what  are  you  speaking,  good  woman?"  he  asked 
in  an  indifferent  tone. 

She  threw  herself  into  a  chair,  breathless.  "  Would  you 
believe  it!  Last  night,  between  eleven  o'clock  and  mid- 
night, the  noble  Lord  Lorenzo  Venier,  the  highest  of  our 
three  grand  Inquisitors,  was  murdered  on  the  doorstep  of 
his  own  house! " 

"  Was  he  an  old  man  ?  "  asked  Andrea  calmly. 

"  Misericordia!  you  talk  as  if  he  had  died  in  his  bed! 
You  are  no  Venetian,  and  you  cannot  understand  what  it 
means  when  an  Inquisitor  is  murdered.  But  the  most  ter- 
rible thing  about  it  is  that  on  the  dagger  which  they  found 
in  the  wound  were  the  words :  '  Death  to  all  Inquisitors !  * 
That  is  no  private  revenge;  that  is  a  political  murder,  so 
my  neighbor  says.  And  it  means  conspiracy  and  revolu- 
tion  " 

"  Have  they  any  clew  to  the  murderer,  Madame  Gio- 
vanna? " 

"  Not  the  faintest,"  answered  the  widow.  "  It  was  a 
dark,  windy  night;  there  was  not  a  gondola  to  be  seen 
on  the  Grand  Canal,  where  his  palace  is.  He  came  home 
alone  through  a  side  street,  was  struck  down,  and  lived 
just  long  enough  to  arouse  the  doorkeeper.  There  was 
nobody  to  be  seen.  But  I  know  what  I  know.  You  are 
a  good  man  and  you  will  not  tell  anyone  if  I  say  to  you 
that  I  know  the  hand  that  shed  this  blood." 

He  looked  at  her  firmly.  "  Say  what  you  wish,  I  will 
not  betray  you." 

She  came  close  to  him.  "  Did  I  not  tell  you  that  many 
a  man  may  be  dead  and  may  yet  come  home?  He  could 
not  forget  that  they  threw  his  wife  and  child  into  the  prison 

57 


German  Mystery  Stories 

tinder  the  lead  roofs.  But  for  God's  sake,  not  a  word  of 
this."  She  looked  about  in  the  room  and  shivered.  Then 
she  continued  in  a  whisper,  "  I  heard  queer  noises  last 
night — as  if  something  were  creeping  up  the  walls — and 
splashing  gently  in  the  water — and  there  was  a  rattling 
at  your  window — and  the  bats  in  the  alley  flew  about  as 
if  frightened,  until  long  after  midnight.  I  know  what  it 
was.  He  came — after  he  had  done  it — he  came  to  greet  us 
— because  we  had  never  said  good-by  to  him/' 

Andrea's  head  was  bowed  as  he  said  that  he  had  slept  so 
soundly  that  he  had  heard  nothing  in  the  night.  He  said 
also  that  it  was  best  for  her  to  repeat  nothing  of  what  she 
had  told  him,  since  it  was  a  dangerous  thing  to  have  any 
knowledge  of  such  a  crime,  even  if  committed  by  a  ghost. 
Then  he  left  the  house  and  went  out  into  the  tumult  on  the 
street. 

It  was  plain  to  be  seen  that  some  great  excitement 
moved  the  minds  of  the  crowds  pouring  toward  St.  Mark's 
Square  from  every  direction.  There  was  no  singing,  no 
laughing,  nothing  but  sighs  or  whispered  words  and  a 
steady  crowding  toward  the  center  of  the  city.  Andrea 
mingled  with  the  stream,  his  hat  drawn  deep  over  his  eyes, 
his  hands  crossed  carelessly  on  his  back.  Now  he  entered 
St.  Mark's  Square,  where  the  greatest  crowd  was  gathered 
in  front  of  the  stately,  ancient  palace  of  the  Doges.  A 
company  of  soldiers  was  posted  at  the  entrance,  and  no 
one  allowed  to  enter  who  did  not  belong  to  the  greater 
council.  Upstairs,  in  the  wide  hall  decorated  by  trophies 
of  the  great  deeds  of  the  Republic,  the  flower  of  Venetian 
nobility  sat  in  secret  conclave,  and  the  crowd  below  were 
waiting  to  hear  the  decision.  Andrea  worked  his  way 
through  until  he  had  almost  reached  the  palace,  throwing 
a  glance  as  he  passed  into  the  interior  of  the  cathedral, 
which  was  filled  to  the  last  corner.  In  a  few  moments 
more  he  stood  between  the  two  high  columns  on  the  edge 
of  the  Piazetta  Quay,  watching  the  jam  of  black  gondolas 
with  their  gleaming,  steel-shod  prows  that  flashed  back 
the  rays  of  the  sun. 

58 


Paul  Heyse 

A  large,  open  gondola,  rowed  by  two  servants  in  rich 
livery,  flew  past  the  quay.  Under  the  canopy  a  lady  lay 
carelessly  inclining  on  the  soft  cushions,  her  head  resting 
in  her  hand.  Diamonds  flashed  from  her  red-gold  hair; 
her  eyes  were  resting  on  the  face  of  a  young  man  who  sat 
opposite  her,  talking  eagerly.  She  raised  her  head  and 
looked  out  proudly  at  the  crowd  on  the  Piazetta.  "  The 
blond  countess,"  Andrea  heard  the  people  behind  him  mur- 
mur. He  turned  with  a  shudder  and  found  himself  face  to 
face  with  the  Jew,  Samuele. 

"  Where  have  you  been  all  these  days,  sir?  "  exclaimed 
the  latter.  "  I  have  been  looking  for  you  everywhere.  If 
you  will  come  with  me  I  have  much  to  tell  you  that  may 
interest  you."  He  called  up  a  gondola  and  drew  Andrea 
in  with  him. 

"  What  have  you  to  say  to  me?"  began  Andrea,  "  and 
where  are  you  taking  me  ?  " 

"  Do  not  go  to  your  notary  to-morrow  morning,"  said 
the  Jew.  "  It  may  be  possible  that  I  shall  fetch  you  for  a 
more  lucrative  errand." 

"  What  do  you  mean  ?  " 

"  You  know  what  happened  last  night?  It  is  unheard  of 
that  now,  twelve  hours  after  such  a  murder  here  in  Venice,, 
there  is  no  trace  of  the  murderer.  We  will  have  lost  our 
credit  with  the  Signoria,  with  the  people,  and  with  all  the 
strangers  who  expect  our  police  here  to  work  wonders. 
The  Council  of  Ten  are  angry  at  such  poor  service.  They 
will  be  looking  for  new  helpers.  And  if  you  think  still 
as  you  did  ten  days  ago,  you  may  soon  find  better  work 
than  that  which  you  are  doing  for  your  notary.  I  know 
faces,  and  I  can  see  that  you  have  yours  in  your  control. 
The  man  who  can  hide  his  own  thoughts  is  the  man  to 
discover  the  thoughts  of  others." 

"  I  am  still  of  the  same  mind.  But  who  is  to  decide 
whether  I  can  be  of  use?" 

"  The  Tribunal  will  question  you ;  all  I  can  do  is  to  rec- 
ommend you.  They  are  now  choosing  the  third  man  again. 
/  would  not  take  the  position,  no  matter  what  they  might 

59 


German  Mystery  Stories 

offer  me.     The  inscription  on  that  dagger  was  not  made 
for  amusement." 

"  But  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  man  who  is  chosen  must 
accept  the  position?  Or  will  he  refuse?  " 

"Refuse!  Do  you  not  know  that  the  Republic  has  a 
heavy  punishment  for  any  man  who  dare  refuse  office?" 

They  were  now  passing  a  broad  stairway  leading  down 
to  the  water,  about  which  a  crowd  of  gondolas  swayed  and 
pushed.  It  was  the  Palazzo  Venier,  where  the  dead  man 
lay.  Andrea  forced  himself  to  appear  calm,  and  inquired, 
"  Have  you  business  here,  Samuele?  or  is  it  only  curiosity 
to  see  the  dead  that  brings  you?" 

"  I  am  here  on  business,"  answered  the  Jew,  "  and  it  may 
prove  useful  to  you  to  come  with  me.  Do  you  know,  I 
would  be  willing  to  wager  that  among  all  these  who  come 
here  apparently  to  condole,  there  are  not  a  few  of  our 
enemies.  The  murderer  himself,  perhaps,  may  be  even 
now  dismounting  from  one  of  these  gondolas.  He  may  be 
clever  enough  to  know  that  he  is  safer  here  than  any- 
where else,  for  the  police  are  searching  everywhere — 
everywhere  the  slightest  suspicion  could  fall."  With  these 
words,  he  sprang  out  of  the  gondola  and  held  out  his  hand 
to  Andrea.  "  Will  it  alarm  you  to  see  the  dead?  "  he  asked. 

"  No,  indeed,  Samuele,"  answered  Andrea  quickly.  "  Let 
us  go  upstairs  and  pay  our  respects  to  the  great  man;  he 
was  not  likely  to  have  received  us  so  unceremoniously'  dur- 
ing his  lifetime." 

In  the  great  hall  of  the  palace  the  catafalque  was  set  up 
under  a  high  canopy.  Tall  cypresses  reached  to  the  ceiling, 
the  candles  on  high  silver  candelabra  flared  in  the  breeze 
that  came  from  the  open  balcony,  and  four  servants  in 
mourning  livery  held  watch  at  the  corners  of  the  bier. 
The  sharp  profile  of  the  dead  man  rose  white  from  the 
black  velvet  of  his  shroud.  Andrea  recognized  the  fea- 
tures that  he  had  seen,  and  cherished  in  his  memory,  from 
that  short  moment  in  Leonora's  room.  But  no  quivering  of 
lips  or  eyes  betrayed  that  the  murderer  stood  beside  his 
victim. 

60 


Paul  Heyse 

An  hour  later,  Andrea  returned  to  his  home  and  heard 
from  his  landlady  that  the  police  had  searched  the  room 
during  his  absence,  but  that  they  had  found  everything  in 
good  order.  The  little  woman  gave  him  much  advice  as 
to  how  to  act  in  this  dangerous  time,  when  suspicion  might 
fall  upon  one  for  the  slightest  carelessness.  Early  next 
morning,  before  he  had  arisen,  Samuele  entered  his  room. 
"  If  you  are  anxious  to  earn  fourteen  ducats  a  month,"  said 
the  Jew,  "  come  with  me  at  once." 

"  Have  they  chosen  the  new  Inquisitor?  "  asked  Andrea. 

"  I  believe  so." 

"  And  they  have  no  clew  to  the  conspiracy?  " 

"  None  at  all.  The  nobility  are  much  alarmed,  and  are 
shutting  themselves  up  in  their  houses.  The  foreign  am- 
bassadors are  sending,  one  after  the  other,  their  solemn  as- 
surances that  they  have  had  nothing  to  do  with  this  deed. 
The  Three  will  hold  themselves  more  in  secret  than  ever, 
and  there  will  be  a  price  set  upon  the  head  of  the  murderer 
which  will  make  a  poor  man  rich  for  the  rest  of  his  life." 

When  they  reached  the  palace,  Samuele  knocked  at  a  lit- 
tle door  in  the  courtyard  and  was  allowed  to  enter  up  a 
narrow  stairway.  After  they  had  passed  several  armed 
sentries,  they  were  ushered  into  an  apartment  of  medium 
size,  the  windows  of  which  were  half  covered  by  heavy 
curtains.  Three  men,  in  masks  which  almost  hid  their 
faces,  were  walking  up  and  down  engaged  in  a  whispered 
conversation.  A  fourth  man,  unmasked,  sat  at  a  table, 
writing  by  the  light  of  a  single  candle. 

"Is  this  the  stranger  of  whom  you  spoke?"  asked  the 
scribe. 

"  Yes,  your  honor." 

"  You  may  go  now,  Samuele."  The  Jew  bowed  and 
left  the  room. 

There  was  a  pause,  during  which  the  secretary  of  the 
Tribunal  looked  through  several  papers  before  him.  Then 
he  turned  a  sharp  glance  on  the  stranger  and  said :  "  Your 
name  is  Andrea  Delfin.  Are  you  related  to  the  Venetian 
nobili  of  this  name?" 

61 


German  Mystery  Stories 

"  Not  that  I  know  of.  My  family  have  lived  for  many 
generations  in  Brescia." 

"  You  live  in  the  Calle  della  Cortesia,  in  the  house  of 
Giovanna  Danieli.  You  desire  to  enter  the  service  of  the 
mighty  Council?" 

"  I  wish  to  offer  my  services  to  the  Republic." 

"  Your  papers  from  Brescia  appear  to  be  in  good  order. 
The  notary  with  whom  you  worked  there  for  five  years 
gives  you  the  name  of  a  sensible  and  reliable  man.  But 
we  know  nothing  of  the  six  or  seven  years  before  you  came 
to  him.  Were  you  in  Brescia  during  that  time?" 

"  No,  your  honor,"  answered  Andrea  quietly.  "  When 
I  had  exhausted  my  small  patrimony,  I  was  obliged 
to  take  a  position  as  servant,  and  I  traveled  with  my 
master." 

"And  your  references?" 

"  They  were  stolen  from  me,  with  the  bag  which  con- 
tained my  entire  property.  I  was  tired  of  traveling  and 
returned  to  Brescia.  My  various  masters  had  utilized  me 
for  secretary  work  at  times.  Therefore  I  sought  service 
with  a  notary,  and  your  honor  can  see  that  my  work  was 
satisfactory." 

He  said  all  this  in  a  quiet,  modest  manner,  his  head 
bent  slightly  forward.  Suddenly  one  of  the  three  masked 
men  approached  the  table  and  Andrea  felt  piercing  eyes 
resting  upon  him.  "What  is  your  name?"  asked  the  In- 
quisitor, in  a  voice  weakened  by  age. 

"  Andrea  Delfin.    Here  are  my  papers." 

"  Remember  that  it  is  dangerous  to  deceive  the  High 
Tribunal.  What  if  I  should  tell  you  that  your  name  is 
— Candiano?  " 

A  short  pause  followed  these  words — a  silence  so  com- 
plete that  the  gentle  ticking  of  the  death  worm  in  the  walls 
could  be  heard.  Four  pairs  of  eyes  were  turned  toward  the 
stranger. 

"  Candiano?  "  he  answered  slowly  in  a  firm  voice.  "  Why 
should  my  name  be  Candiano?  I  wish  that  it  might  be, 
for  as  far  as  I  know,  the  Candiano  family  are  rich  and 

62 


Paul  Heyse 

noble,  and  no  one  who  bears  this  name  need  earn  his  bread 
with  his  pen." 

"You  have  the  face  of  a  Candiano;  your  manner  and 
bearing  show  a  higher  rank  than  these  papers  would  give 
you." 

"  I  cannot  help  the  look  on  my  face,  noble  gentlemen," 
answered  Andrea  calmly.  "  And  as  for  my  manners,  I 
have  endeavored  to  learn  what  I  could  from  my  various 
masters." 

The  other  two  Inquisitors  had  come  nearer  also,  and  one 
of  them,  whose  red  beard  shone  out  under  his  mask,  said 
in  a  low  tone :  "  There  is  a  resemblance,  I  confess,  it  is 
this,  probably,  that  deceives  you.  But  you  know  yourself 
that  that  branch  of  the  family  which  was  settled  in  Murano 
has  died  out  entirely.  The  father  was  buried  in  Rome, 
the  sons  did  not  long  survive  him." 

"  That  may  be,"  answered  the  first.  "  But  look  at  him, 
and  say  yourself  if  you  would  not  think  that  it  was  old 
Luigi  Candiano  risen  from  his  grave  and  grown  younger. 
I  knew  him  well  enough."  He  took  the  papers  from  the 
table  and  looked  through  them  carefully.  "  You  may  be 
right,"  he  said  finally.  "  The  age  does  not  agree.  This 
man  is  too  old  for  one  of  Luigi's  sons.  If  he  is  born  out 
of  wedKyk — then  we  need  have  no  fear  of  him!"  He 
threw  thfyiapers  down  again  and  retired  with  the  others 
to  the  w,f  trpw.  The  steady  glance  of  Andrea's  eyes  did ' 
not  reveal  Lie  terrible  weight  that  was  lifted  from  his  soul 
at  this  moment. 

The  secretary  began  again  to  question  him,  and  dis- 
covered that  he  knew  the  French  language  and  something 
of  German.  After  a  few  moments'  consultation  with  the 
three  at  the  window,  the  secretary  returned  to  the  table 
and  said:  "You  will  be  given  the  pass  of  an  Austrian 
citizen  born  in  Trieste.  With  this  you  are  to  go  to  the 
house  of  the  Austrian  ambassador,  and  ask  for  his  pro- 
tection, saying  that  the  Republic  threatens  to  exile  you. 
This  visit  is  to  give  you  the  opportunity  of  making  the 
acquaintance  of  the  secretary  of  the  embassy.  Your  task 

63 


German  Mystery  Stories 

is  to  find  out  if  any  personal  and  secret  relations  exist 
between  the  Viennese  court  and  the  nobility  of  Venice. 
You  are  to  make  no  change  in  your  manner  of  life.  We 
will  pay  you  twelve  ducats  for  the  first  months ;  if  you  prove 
yourself  worthy,  the  sum  will  be  doubled." 

Andrea  bowed  as  a  sign  that  the  arrangement  was  satis- 
factory. "  Here  is  your  German  pass,"  said  the  secretary. 
"  Your  house  stands  next  the  palace  of  the  Countess 
Amidei.  It  should  be  easy  for  you  to  make  the  acquaint- 
ance of  her  serving  maid.  We  will  pay  you  whatever  ex- 
penses you  may  incur  in  doing  this.  Report  to  us  whatever 
you  may  hear  about  the  relations  of  the  countess  with 
Venetian  noblemen.  And  one  thing  more,"  here  the  sec- 
retary opened  a  little  box  which  stood  upon  the  table. 
"  Step  nearer  and  look  at  the  dagger  in  this  box.  There 
are  large  armor  factories  in  Brescia.  Do  you  remember 
ever  having  seen  any  work  of  this  character?" 

Controlling  himself  by  a  tremendous  effort,  Andrea 
looked  into  the  little  box,  looked  at  the  weapon  which  he 
knew  only  too  well.  It  was  a  double-edged  knife  with  a 
steel  handle  in  the  form  of  a  cross.  On  the  blade,  still 
stained  with  blood,  were  carved  the  words :  "  Death  to  all 
Inquisitors ! " 

After  a  long  pause  he  pushed  back  the  box  w£~;  a  hand 
which  did  not  tremble.  "  I  do  not  remember  tc  ave  seen 
this  dagger,  or  one  like  it,  in  any  shop  in  Bresc  '  he  said. 

The  secretary  closed  the  box  and  dismissed  him  with 
a  gesture.  Andrea  walked  out  slowly  past  the  sentries, 
through  the  echoing  corridor,  and  not  until  he  reached  the 
stairs  did  he  permit  himself  to  sink  down  upon  a  seat.  His 
knees  trembled,  cold  drops  shone  on  his  forehead,  his 
tongue  clove  to  his  palate. 

Out  on  the  open  street  again  he  threw  back  his  head 
defiantly,  and  regained  his  usual  calm,  quiet  demeanor. 
With  an  apparently  careless  eye  he  read  a  placard  announc- 
ing the  high  reward  set  upon  the  capture  of  the  murderer. 
Then  he  called  a  gondola  and  rowed  to  the  palace  of  the 
Austrian  ambassador.  Just  as  he  was  about  to  leave  his 


Paul  Heyse 

boat,  a  tall  young  man  standing  before  the  door  turned 
suddenly  and  exclaimed  in  delight.  "  Ser  Delfin!  how  de- 
lightful that  we  should  meet  here!  Do  you  not  know  me? 
Have  you  forgotten  our  evenings  on  the  Garda  Lake  ?  " 

"  Is  it  you,  Baron  Rosenberg?  "  answered  Andrea,  taking 
the  other's  hand  heartily.  "  Are  you  in  Venice  for  some 
time?" 

"  Heaven  alone  knows  for  how  long,"  said  the  other. 
"  For  you  must  know,  dear  friend,  that  I  am  now  secretary 
to  his  excellency,  the  Austrian  ambassador.  I  fear  you  may 
not  wish  to  be  recognized  as  an  old  acquaintance  of  mine?  " 

"  I  am  not  afraid,"  replied  Andrea.  "  If  I  am  not  dis- 
turbing you,  I  would  like  a  few  moments'  talk  with  you." 

"  Oh,  then,  you  were  coming  to  see  me  without  knowing 
me?  I  am  all  the  more  glad  to  do  whatever  I  can  for  you." 

Andrea  blushed  and  felt  for  the  first  time  the  humiliation 
of  his  disguise.  The  Austrian  pass  in  his  pocket  seemed 
to  weigh  like  lead ;  but  the  control  that  hard  years  had  won 
for  him  did  not  desert  him. 

"  I  wish  merely  to  ask  for  some  information  about  a 
German  firm,"  he  said.  "  For  I  am  here  in  Venice  in  the 
very  modest  position  of  scribe  to  a  notary.  But  as  I  was 
nothing  more  in  Brescia,  and  you  still  did  not  think  me 
unworthy  of  your  acquaintance  and  that  of  your  mother, 
I  am  very  glad  to  meet  you  again.  You  must  first  of  all 
tell  me  of  that  noble  lady,  whose  great  kindness  to  me  still- 
lives  fresh  in  my  memory." 

The  young  man  led  his  guest  up  to  a  comfortable  apart- 
ment, where  Andrea's  eyes  fell  first  upon  a  large  portrait 
hanging  over  the  desk.  He  recognized  the  brilliant  eyes 
and  the  shining  hair  of  Countess  Leonora. 

His  host  pulled  two  armchairs  to  a  window  through 
which  one  looked  out  over  a  broad  canal  to  the  rear  wall 
of  an  old  church.  "  Sit  down  and  make  yourself  quite  at 
home,"  he  said.  "  Can  I  offer  you  some  wine  or  a  sherbet  ? 
But  you  are  not  listening  to  me — you  are  looking  at  that 
picture.  Do  you  know  who  it  is — but  who  in  Venice  would 
not  know  it?  Do  not  talk  to  me  of  this  woman.  I  know 

65 


German  Mystery  Stories 

all  they  say  of  her  and  I  believe  it  all,  and  yet  I  assure  you 
in  all  seriousness,  that  even  you  yourself,  if  you  could  stand 
before  her,  would  forget  everything  except  joy  that  you  are 
there." 

"  Is  this  picture  your  property  ?  "  asked  Andrea  after  a 
pause. 

"  No.  It  belonged  to  a  more  fortunate  man  than  I — a 
handsome  young  Venetian  who  had  the  good  luck  to  be 
her  favorite.  The  poor  fellow  was  careless  enough  to  be- 
come my  friend,  and  this  crime  has  been  punished  by  ban- 
ishment. And  it  is  now  my  punishment  to  have  this  picture 
before  me,  and  to  see  the  eyes  of  the  original  clouded  with 
tears  for  his  sake." 

He  stood  before  the  picture  as  he  spoke,  looking  at  it 
with  sad  eyes.  Andrea  looked  at  him,  in  his  turn,  with  the 
deepest  sympathy.  The  young  man  could  not  be  called 
particularly  handsome,  but  a  mingling  of  youthful  slen- 
derness  and  manly  gravity  made  him  very  attractive.  Nobil- 
ity and  energy  were  shown  in  the  grace  of  his  tall  figure. 
His  guest  exclaimed  involuntarily :  "  And  you — you  too 
can  love  this  woman,  so  unworthy  of  you  ?  " 

"  Love  ?  "  answered  the  young  German  in  a  gloomy  tone. 
"Who  says  that  I  love  her? — that  I  love  her  as  I  have 
loved  at  home?  Say  rather  that  it  is  an  obsession,  that  I 
wear  her  fetters  with  groaning  and  with  gnashing  of  teeth ; 
that  I  am  ashamed  of  my  weakness,  and  yet  revel  in  it.  I 
have  never  known  before  what  joy  it  is  to  feel  one's  shoul- 
ders borne  down  by  a  self-chosen  yoke,  and  to  feel  all  one's 
pride  crushed  to  the  dust  for  a  smile  from  such  eyes.  But 
I  am  tiring  you.  Let  us  talk  of  something  else.  How  has 
the  world  gone  with  you  since  you  left  Brescia  ?  " 

"  Talk  to  me  rather  of  your  mother,"  said  Andrea. 
"  What  a  woman  she  is !  The  very  stranger  even  feels  the 
desire  to  love  and  respect  her  as  a  mother." 

"  Ah !  Yes  !  yes !  "  exclaimed  the  other.  "  Let  us  talk 
of  her — it  may  free  me  from  this  evil  spell  that  has  fallen 
upon  me.  Would  you  believe  that  I  could  be  so  ungrateful 
as  ever  to  forget  what  a  mother  she  has  been  to  me  ?  Would 

66 


Paul  Heyse 

you  believe  that  I  have  already  received  three  letters  from 
her,  in  which  she  implores  me  to  leave  Venice  and  return 
to  her  in  Vienna  ?  She  feels  that  there  is  some  evil  waiting 
for  me  here — alas !  she  does  not  know  how  great  the  evil 
is  that  has  already  crossed  my  path — she  does  not  know 
that  nothing  holds  me  here  but  a  woman  whose  name  I 
would  not  dare  mention  in  her  pure  presence.  But,  no — it 
is  not  quite  as  bad  as  that.  It  would  not  be  possible  for 
me  to  leave  my  post  just  now.  My  chief,  the  count,  be- 
lieves that  I  am  indispensable  to  him,  and  there  is  much 
to  do  at  this  moment.  It  may  not  be  unknown  to  you  that 
we  have  fallen  into  disfavor  here.  They  have  even  gone 
so  far  as  to  blame  us  for  Venier's  murder,  a  deed  which 
we  all  abhor !  For,  don't  you  think  yourself,"  he  continued 
eagerly — "don't  you  think  yourself  that  it  will  be  quite  im- 
possible to  gain  the  evident  object,  the  fall  of  the  Tribunal, 
through  a  path  of  crime  like  this  ?  The  question  of  morals 
quite  apart,  is  it  at  all  possible  that  any  conspiracy  could 
remain  sufficiently  long  undiscovered  to  make  it  at  all  of 
use?" 

"  Quite  impossible,"  answered  Andrea  carelessly.  "  What 
three  Venetians  know,  the  Council  of  Ten  knows.  It  is 
only  strange  that  they  were  served  so  badly  this  time." 

"  And  suppose  that  it  should  be  possible  to  the  conspir- 
ators to  heap  murder  upon  murder,  until  no  one  can  be 
found  who  will  take  upon  himself  the  dangerous  honor  of. 
an  inquisitor's  office — what  would  be  won  by  that?  The 
pillars  of  a  healthy  State  are  undermined  in  Venice,  and 
only  the  stern  hand  of  tyranny  can  hold  the  rotten  structure 
together  for  a  short  time  longer.  But  you  see  how  careless 
I  am  for  a  diplomat  who  would  win  his  spurs  in  Venice ! 
Here  I  know  you  only  slightly,  and  I  am  already  talking 
so  freely  to  you !  But  I  think  I  know  something  of  char- 
acter, and  I  do  not  believe  that  a  mind  like  yours  could 
ever  bend  to  the  service  of  the  Signoria." 

Andrea  held  out  his  hand  to  his  friend.  But  in  the  same 
moment  he  turned  and  saw,  several  steps  behind  them,  his 
colleague  Samuele  standing  in  the  middle  of  the  room.  The 

67 


German  Mystery  Stones 

Jew  had  opened  the  door  softly  and  walked  quietly  across 
the  heavy  carpet.  He  bowed  deeply  to  Rosenberg,  pre- 
tending not  to  notice  Andrea.  "  Your  honor  will  pardon 
me  for  entering  unannounced,  there  was  no  lackey  in  the 
anteroom.  I  bring  the  jewels  you  asked  for." 

He  pulled  several  boxes  from  his  pocket  and  laid  them 
carefully  on  the  table  with  all  the  manner  of  the  Jewish 
merchant,  a  manner  he  was  careful  to  suppress  in  his  other 
affairs.  While  the  young  nobleman  examined  the  jewels, 
Samuele  threw  a  meaning  look  to  Andrea,  who  had  turned 
from  him  and  was  looking  out  of  the  window.  He  knew 
what  the  Jew's  appearance  in  this  hour  meant.  The  spy 
was  set  to  watch  the  spy,  the  old  hand  was  to  encourage 
the  novice  in  his  trial  venture. 

When  Rosenberg  had  chosen  a  chain  with  a  ruby  clasp, 
paid  for  it  without  bargaining,  and  dismissed  the  Jew  with 
a  gesture,  he  turned  to  Andrea  again.  "  Do  you  know  any- 
thing about  that  Jew  ?  "  asked  the  latter. 

"  Oh,  yes,  I  know  him.  He  is  a  spy  set  to  watch  us  in 
our  house  by  the  Council  of  Ten.  I  am  sorry  for  your  sake 
that  he  should  have  come  in  just  then.  He  saw  me  take 
your  hand ;  I  wager  that  in  less  than  an  hour  your  name 
will  be  in  the  black  book." 

Andrea  smiled  bitterly.  "  I  am  not  afraid,  my  friend.  I 
am  a  peaceful  man  and  my  conscience  is  clear." 

Four  days  later,  on  a  Saturday  evening,  Andrea  asked 
his  landlady  for  the  key  of  the  house.  She  praised  his  de- 
cision to  make  an  exception  from  his  usual  rule  and  spend 
one  evening  out  of  doors.  It  would  be  worth  while  on  this 
particular  evening;  the  funeral  ceremonies  for  the  noble 
Lord  Venier,  in  the  Cathedral  San  Rocco,  would  be  well 
worth  seeing.  Andrea  replied  that  he  would  rather  avoid 
the  crowd,  and  that  he  preferred  to  take  a  gondola  and  row 
out  toward  the  Lido. 

He  left  the  house  and  walked  down  the  street  in  the 
opposite  direction  from  that  leading  to  San  Rocco.  It  was 
already  eight  o'clock;  a  fine  rain  thickened  the  air,  but 
did  not  prevent  crowds  of  people  from  streaming  in  all 

68 


Paul  Heyse 

directions  toward  the  great  church  across  the  canal  where 
the  funeral  mass  for  the  murdered  Inquisitor  was  to  be 
sung.  Andrea  paused  in  a  dark  side  street,  took  a  mask 
from  his  pocket  and  fastened  it  over  his  face.  Then  he 
walked  quickly  to  the  nearest  canal,  and  sprang  into  a  gon- 
dola, giving  the  order :  "  To  San  Rocco." 

The  stately  old  church  was  bright  as  day  with  the  light  of 
innumerable  candles,  and  alive  with  the  swaying  movement 
of  a  tremendous  crowd.  A  great  silver  cross  stood  at  the 
head  of  the  catafalque,  and  the  coverings  of  black  velvet 
bore  the  crest  of  the  Venier  family.  The  chairs  arranged 
in  a  semicircle  up  through  the  entire  depth  of  the  choir 
were  draped  in  black,  and  were  filled  by  representatives  of 
the  entire  Venetian  nobility.  Not  one  of  them  dared  to  be 
missing  on  this  occasion,  for  not  one  of  them  wished  to 
allow  a  doubt  of  the  sincerity  of  his  grief.  On  another 
row  of  seats  sat  the  foreign  ambassadors.  Their  number 
also  was  complete  when  the  solemn  sound  of  the  trumpets 
from  the  height  of  the  dome  announced  the  beginning  of 
the  ceremonies. 

Two  men  walked  hastily,  absorbed  in  eager  conversation, 
through  a  side  street  which  led  under  gloomy  arcades  to 
the  square  of  San  Rocco.  They  did  not  notice  that  a  third 
man  was  following  them,  keeping  closely  to  the  dark  shad- 
ows of  the  houses,  his  face  and  figure  hidden  by  mask  and 
cloak.  The  two  who  walked  on  ahead  did  not  wear  the 
mask.  One  of  them  was  a  gray-bearded  gentleman  of  noble 
dignity  of  bearing ;  his  companion,  much  younger,  listened 
with  respectful  attention  to  what  the  elder  man  was  saying. 

And  now  they  came  past  the  spot  where  a  bright  lamp  in 
a  house  window  threw  a  sharp  light  out  over  the  street. 
Their  follower  in  his  mask  had  come  close  to  them  and 
looked  at  them  eagerly  as  the  light  fell  on  their  faces.  He 
could  plainly  see  that  the  younger  man  was  the  Secretary 
of  the  Inquisition ;  and  the  face  and  voice  of  the  older  man 
had  been  seen  and  heard  in  the  Chamber  of  the  Secret  Tri- 
bunal. It  was  the  voice  which  had  told  Andrea  Delfin  that 
he  was  a  Candiano. 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

"  Go  back  at  once,"  the  older  man  was  saying,  "  and 
finish  this  affair  immediately.  You  may  order  the  first  hear- 
ing of  the  prisoners,  for  it  is  not  likely  that  I  will  be  able 
to  return  until  midnight.  If  there  is  any  immediate  report 
to  make,  you  may  find  me  at  the  house  of  my  brother-in- 
law  when  the  ceremony  is  over." 

They  parted,  and  the  elder  man  walked  more  quickly 
through  the  silent  arcades  toward  the  square.  The  music 
in  the  church  was  silent  now,  and  thousands  of  eyes  turned 
toward  the  pulpit  where  a  white-haired  feeble  priest,  the 
papal  nuncio,  was  slowly  mounting  the  steps  supported 
by  two  younger  clergymen.  There  was  not  a  sound  to 
be  heard  as  the  old  man's  weak  voice  arose  in  a  solemn 
prayer. 

The  last  echo  of  the  amen  had  scarce  rolled  down  from 
the  domed  roof  when  a  murmur  arose  among  the  crowd  at 
the  portal,  running  rapidly  through  the  length  of  the  church 
until  the  entire  assemblage  was  swaying  uneasily  as  the 
surface  of  an  ocean.  All  eyes  were  turned  toward  the  great 
doors,  from  which  the  nameless  terror  had  come.  Torches 
waved  across  the  dark  square,  and  after  a  moment's  breath- 
less pause  in  the  first  birth  of  the  excitement  a  hundred- 
voiced  cry  was  heard  :  "  Murder !  Murder !  " 

A  panic  which  threatened  to  tear  apart  the  walls  of  the 
old  church  followed  this  sound.  Nobles  and  plebeians, 
priests  and  choir  boys,  the  guardians  of  the  catafalque, 
thousands  of  men  and  women — all  rushed  blindly  to  the 
exit.  The  old  man  in  the  pulpit  stood  alone  in  quiet  dig- 
nity, looking  down  upon  the  struggling  crowd  at  his  feet, 
and  left  his  place  only  when  the  empty  church  showed  him 
that  his  duty  was  over. 

Outside  on  the  open  square  the  terrified  crowd  pushed 
and  struggled  toward  one  spot  where  gathered  torches 
flared  in  wind  and  rain.  A  troop  of  the  guards,  called  up 
in  haste,  stood  about  a  motionless  body  lying  at  the  en- 
trance to  a  dark  side  street.  By  the  light  of  the  torches 
the  blood  was  seen  streaming  from  a  wound  in  the  side, 
and  in  the  wound  itself  was  a  dagger  with  a  steel  cross  for 

70 


Paul  Heyse 

a  handle,  a  dagger  which  bore  the  words :  "  Death  to  all 
Inquisitors." 

The  effect  on  Venice  of  this  terrible  discovery  resembled 
the  effect  of  the  second  and  fatal  shock  of  an  earthquake. 
The  first  shock  had  caused  surprise  and  terror — a  terror 
which  the  very  suddenness  rendered  fleeting,  as  the  realiza- 
tion of  what  had  happened  could  not  penetrate  the  con- 
sciousness so  quickly.  But  this  second  shock  brought  full 
comprehension.  It  was  not  possible  to  conceal  the  fact 
that  the  wounded  man  was  one  of  the  Three.  This  time  the 
dagger  had  been  turned  aside  by  a  heavy  undergarment, 
and  the  victim  was  not  dead.  But  the  injury  was  very 
serious,  possibly  fatal,  and  caused  a  pause  in  the  business 
of  the  Secret  Tribunal,  as  the  consent  of  all  three  members 
was  necessary  for  every  decree.  Worse  even  than  this 
laming  of  the  power  of  government  was  the  apparent  pene- 
trating of  the  secrecy  which  surrounded  all  its  acts  and 
which  surrounded  the  very  personality  of  its  possessors. 
The  choice  and  election  of  the  third  Inquisitor  had  been  car- 
ried out  in  the  Council  of  Ten  with  the  utmost  secrecy  pro- 
tected by  the  most  solemn  oaths,  and  yet  a  few  days  later 
a  blow  had  struck  down  the  newly  elected  Inquisitor.  The 
thought  lay  near  that  treason  must  dwell  in  the  very  inner- 
most circles  of  the  government  itself.  The  Secretary  of 
the  Inquisition,  the  last  person  to  see  the  wounded  man 
before  the  attack,  was  arrested,  submitted  to  the  most  se- 
vere examinations,  and  threatened  with  a  terrible  death. 
But  all  in  vain. 

Venice  was  practically  in  a  state  of  siege  after  this  second 
attack.  Half  the  city  was  in  the  service  of  the  government 
to  watch  the  other  half.  The  streets  were  patrolled  day 
and  night ;  the  wearing  of  masks,  or  the  carrying  of  weap- 
ons of  any  sort,  was  forbidden  under  pain  of  severe  punish- 
ment; and  every  gondola  that  landed  passengers  at  the 
quays  was  inspected.  No  one  was  allowed  to  leave  Venice, 
and  a  ship  at  the  entrance  to  the  harbor  held  up  even  the 
messengers  of  the  government.  Far  beyond  the  limits  of 


German  Mystery  Stories 

the  city  the  news  of  these  conditions  spread  like  a  panic. 
Anyone  planning  a  journey  to  Venice  postponed  it  indefi- 
nitely. Merchants  having  business  connection  with  Ve- 
netian houses  withdrew  their  orders  until  the  Reign  of 
Terror  should  have  passed  over.  Inside  the  town,  the 
nobles  left  their  houses  only  under  pressure  of  dire  neces- 
sity, and  refused  to  receive  visitors,  as  it  was  impossible  to 
know  that  one's  nearest  friends  might  not  be  concerned  in 
the  conspiracy.  Even  the  common  people,  usually  uncon- 
cerned in  the  quarrelings  of  the  higher  powers,  felt  the  in- 
creasing gloom  of  the  nameless  terror  that  had  seized  upon 
the  entire  town. 

Among  the  few  people  who  did  not  allow  the  panic  to 
influence  their  thoughts  or  actions  was  Andrea  Delfin.  The 
morning  following  the  deed  he  had  been  ordered  to  the 
palace  and  put  through  an  examination  as  to  what  he  might 
have  seen  and  heard  during  the  hour  of  the  attack.  He 
had  said  that  he  had  been  out  on  the  Lido,  endeavoring  to 
discover  the  opinions  of  the  fishermen.  His  friend  Samuele 
had  at  once  reported  his  noticeable  friendliness  with  Baron 
Rosenberg.  Andrea  explained  this  by  his  former  acquaint- 
ance with  the  young  secretary,  which  could  only  be  of  use 
to  the  Tribunal. 

He  spent  some  part  of  every  day  with  his  German  friend, 
as  the  two  men  had  begun  to  find  more  and  more  real  pleas- 
ure in  each  other's  society.  The  baron  told  Andrea  Ijaugh- 
ingly  that  he  had  been  warned  against  him  as  a  secret  spy 
of  the  Tribunal.  But  Andrea's  calm  answer  gave  the  other 
an  assurance  which  was  scarcely  needed,  as  his  confidence 
in  his  Italian  friend  was  complete. 

One  day,  as  Andrea  was  leaning  over  the  edge  of  a  rail- 
ing looking  down  at  the  quiet  waters  of  the  canal,  some  one 
called  his  name  from  a  gondola,  and  he  saw  Baron  Rosen- 
berg waving  eagerly  to  him  from  the  cabin.  "  Have  you 
an  hour  free  ?  "  cried  the  young  man.  "  Then  come  with 
me.  I  am  in  a  hurry,  but  want  to  speak  to  you."  When 
Andrea  had  entered  the  boat  the  baron  continued,  pressing 
his  friend's  hand  warmly,  "  I  am  very  glad  indeed  to  have 

72 


Paid  Heyse 

met  you.  I  would  have  been  very  sorry  to  have  had  to 
depart  without  bidding  you  good-by,  but  I  feared  for  your 
sake  to  visit  you  or  even  to  send  for  you." 

"  You  are  going  away  ?  "  asked  Andrea,  startled. 

"  I  must.  My  dear  mother  is  worrying  about  me.  I 
have  a  piteous  letter  from  her  begging  me  to  return.  Her 
physician  tells  me  that  I  must  be  with  her  or  she  will  fall 
seriously  ill.  Here  is  the  letter." 

When  Andrea  had  read  it  he  returned  it  to  the  other, 
saying :  "  It  is  indeed  touching,  and  yet  I  could  almost 
wish  that  you  would  not  go  just  now.  Not  alone  because 
I  shall  be  so  utterly  solitary  when  you  are  gone — but  it  is 
not  safe  now  for  anyone  to  leave  Venice.  For  you  to  do 
so  would  be  to  incur  suspicion  of  flight.  Have  you  had 
any  difficulty  in  obtaining  permission  to  leave  ?  " 

"  Not  the  slightest.  But  how  could  they  prevent  me  ? 
I  am  a  member  of  the  embassy." 

"  Then  you  have  a  double  reason  for  caution.  Many  a 
door  stands  invitingly  open  here  in  Venice  which  leads  to 
an  abyss  beyond.  If  you  will  follow  my  advice,  you  will 
not  show  yourself  so  openly  in  the  streets  the  last  hours 
before  your  departure.  You  cannot  tell  what  may  be  done 
to  prevent  your  going." 

"  But  what  can  I  do  ?  "  asked  the  young  man.  "  You 
know  it  is  forbidden  to  wear  masks." 

"  Then  stay  at  home,  and  let  the  representatives  of  the 
Republic  wait  in  vain  for  your  farewell  visit.  When  do  you 
leave?" 

"  To-morrow  morning  at  five.  I  expect  to  be  away  about 
a  month.  Now  that  I  have  fully  decided  to  go,  I  am  almost 
glad  of  this  heroic  treatment,  although  it  hurts  me  cruelly. 
When  I  am  far  away  from  the  fatal  charm  of  the  en- 
chantress, I  may  be  able  to  throw  off  the  spell  of  her  power 
forever.  And  yet,  would  you  believe  me,  dear  friend,  I 
tremble  at  thought  of  parting." 

"  The  best  cure  for  that  would  be  to  part  from  her  at 
once." 

"  You  mean  not  to  see  her  again  ?    You  ask  too  much." 

73 


German  Mystery  Stories 

Andrea  caught  the  other's  hand.  "  My  dear  friend,"  he 
said  with  more  tenderness  than  he  had  ever  shown  before, 
"  I  have  no  right  to  ask  any  sacrifice  of  you.  But  the  deep 
affection  that  has  drawn  me  to  you  from  the  very  first  gives 
me  the  courage  to  make  a  request  of  you.  I  beg  of  you, 
by  the  memory  of  your  noble  mother,  do  not  go  to  the 
countess's  house.  I  have  a  premonition,  strong  enough  to 
be  almost  a  certainty,  that  some  terrible  evil  will  befall  you 
if  you  see  this  woman  during  the  last  hours  before  your 
departure.  Promise  me,  I  beg  of  you,  promise  me !  " 

Rosenberg  shook  his  head  gravely.  "  Do  not  ask  a 
promise  of  me;  be  content  that  it  is  my  will  to  follow  your 
advice.  But  the  demon  may  be  stronger  than  I  am  my- 
self." 

They  sat  silent  for  some  time  while  the  gondola  moved 
gently  through  the  quiet  waters.  Near  the  Rialto,  Andrea 
caused  the  boat  to  halt,  as  he  would  be  obliged  to  leave  his 
friend  here.  He  started  and  trembled  slightly  at  the  other's 
question  whether  he  would  still  be  in  Venice  a  month  later. 
He  held  his  friend's  hand  for  some  time,  and  stood  looking 
at  the  boat  long  after  it  had  moved  on. 

Andrea  Delfin  had  long  since  cut  himself  loose  from  all 
ties  that  could  bind  him  to  another  personality ;  the  terrible 
task  that  he  had  set  for  himself  had  seemed  to  kill  all  hu- 
man instincts  within  him.  But  he  himself  was  astonished 
at  the  pain  the  parting  from  this  young  man  awoke  in  his 
heart.  He  found  himself  wishing  that  he  might  not  see  him 
again  until  his  work  was  done.  He  decided  to  write  to  the 
mother  and  warn  her  not  to  allow  her  son  to  return  to 
Venice.  The  thought  seemed  to  cause  him  great  relief,  and 
he  hurried  home  to  carry  out  his  intention  at  once.  But 
alone  in  his  gloomy  room  he  could  not  control  the  unease 
and  distress  that  kept  him  pacing  up  and  down  the  narrow 
space.  He  knew  that  the  softening  of  his  heart  did  not 
come  from  any  twinge  of  conscience  or  from  any  fear  of 
the  discovery  of  his  terrible  secret.  That  very  morning  he 
had  been  called  before  the  Secretary  of  the  Tribunal  and 
had  seen  how  complete  was  the  panic  of  the  government. 

74 


Paul  Heyse 

The  wounded  Inquisitor  still  lay  between  life  and  death. 
One  blow  more  and  the  building  with  its  undermined 
foundations  must  fall  forever.  Andrea  felt  no  doubt  as  to 
his  mission,  no  doubt  as  to  the  protection  of  Providence 
for  his  work.  It  was  a  something  else,  a  vague  premo- 
nition he  could  not  understand,  which  made  him  uneasy 
now  and  would  not  allow  him  to  regain  his  usual  iron 
composure. 

The  tenor  of  his  thoughts  was  interrupted  as  twilight  fell 
by  a  sound  at  Smeraldina's  window  opposite.  He  had 
neglected  the  girl  lately,  and  now  hastened  to  make  up  for 
this  with  particular  friendliness,  as  he  found  the  connection 
too  useful  to  lose.  Smeraldina  was  soon  reconciled,  and 
told  him  that  her  countess  was  expecting  a  number  of  gen- 
tlemen to  play  cards  that  evening. 

"  Is  the  German  baron  coming,  the  one  you  told  me  of?  " 
asked  Andrea. 

"  He  ?  Why,  of  course  not.  He  is  so  jealous  that  he 
will  never  enter  the  house  if  he  knows  anyone  else  is  here. 
Besides,  he  is  going  away — and  we  are  not  sorry." 

Andrea  breathed  a  sigh  of  relief.  At  ten  o'clock,  as  ar- 
ranged, he  stood  before  the  portal  of  the  palace  waiting  for 
the  girl  to  let  him  in.  The  air  was  thick,  the  night  cloudy, 
and  the  few  passers  through  the  little  square  wrapped  them- 
selves in  their  cloaks.  As  Andrea  stood  and  waited,  he 
remembered  the  evening  that  another  Candiano  had  crossed 
this  threshold  to  meet  his  death.  He  shivered,  and  the 
hand  he  held  out  to  the  girl  a  moment  later  was  icy  cold. 
Once  in  her  room  he  would  not  consent  to  sit  down  at  the 
richly  spread  table  she  had  prepared,  but  persuaded  her  to 
allow  him  to  look  through  the  crack  in  the  wall  once  more, 
pretending  great  curiosity  to  see  what  a  card  party  among 
rich  people  might  be  like.  He  spoke  jokingly,  and  pro- 
tested that  he  would  return  to  her  very  soon. 

When  he  had  taken  his  uncomfortable  position  on  the 
little  platform  and  looked  down  at  the  neighboring  room, 
he  would  scarcely  have  recognized  it  again.  Tall  mirrors 
reflected  the  light  of  many  candles,  and  their  golden  frames 

75 


German  Mystery  Stories 

shot  out  flashes  that  awoke  answering  gleams  from  the 
painted  walls.  Jewels  sparkled  on  the  white  throat  of  the 
fair  Leonora,  but  her  eyes  were  tired  and  rested  with  in- 
difference on  the  cards  and  on  the  faces  of  the  young  men 
about  her.  The  money  passed  rapidly  from  hand  to  hand 
at  the  card  table.  One  young  gallant,  weary  of  the  game, 
sat  on  a  divan  singing  sentimental  barcaroles  to  the  accom- 
paniment of  the  lute,  while  servants  passed  noiselessly  over 
the  thick  carpet  carrying  trays  of  refreshments.  The 
watcher  on  the  platform  was  about  to  retire,  seeing  nothing 
to  interest  him,  when  one  of  the  great  doors  was  suddenly 
opened  and  a  stately  figure  entered  the  card  room,  greeted 
by  a  sudden  respectful  silence.  It  was  a  man  past  middle 
age,  carrying  his  white  head  still  proudly  erect  on  stalwart 
shoulders.  He  threw  a  quick  glance  over  the  young  men 
and  bowed  to  the  countess,  as  he  prayed  her  not  to  allow 
him  to  disturb  the  company. 

"  You  are  asking  too  much,  Ser  Malapiero,"  answered 
the  countess.  "  These  young  men  have  too  much  respect 
for  the  many  services  you  have  rendered  the  Republic 
that  they  should  continue  their  sinful  pastime  in  your 
presence." 

"  You  mistake,  fair  Leonora,"  said  the  newcomer.  "  I 
have  long  since  retired  from  all  political  activity,  and  find 
myself  still  young  enough  at  heart  to  wish  to  enjoy  a  merry 
hour  over  cards  and  wine  in  the  presence  of  beauty-  But 
I  do  not  come  to-night  to  lay  claim  to  your  hospitality.  I 
stepped  in  for  a  moment  to  bring  you  news  of  your  brother, 
news  which  I  have  received  from  Genoa  to-night.  It  is 
good  news,  and  will  not  spoil  your  mood,  therefore  I  feel 
free  to  ask  for  a  few  moments  of  your  time.  May  we  step 
in  here  ?  "  He  pointed  to  the  door  of  the  great  hall. 

Andrea  started  up,  but  realized  that  it  would  be  impos- 
sible for  him  to  leave  his  place  without  being  seen.  With 
quick  decision  he  laid  himself  flat  on  the  floor  of  the  plat- 
form in  a  position  which  enabled  him  to  hide  behind  the 
low  railing.  He  heard  the  opening  of  the  door,  the  rustle 
of  the  countess's  gown  and  the  step  of  the  old  man  who 


Paul  Heyse 

followed  her,  asserting  that  he  did  not  need  a  light  for  the 
few  words  he  had  to  say.  The  door  closed  behind  them, 
and  they  stood  just  below  the  platform. 

"  Why  do  you  come  here  ?  "  asked  the  countess  hastily. 
"  Do  you  bring  me  the  news  that  Gritti  will  return  ?  " 

"  You  have  not  fulfilled  the  conditions,  fair  Leonora. 
You  have  not  revealed  to  us  any  of  the  secrets  from  Vi- 
enna." 

"  Is  it  my  fault  ?  I  did  everything  a  woman  could  do,  and 
this  stubborn  German  is  absolutely  my  captive.  But  not 
a  word  of  business  would  pass  his  lips — and  he  is  going 
away  to-day,  as  you  know.  I  am  ill  of  annoyance  over  the 
whole  matter." 

"  It  would  be  more  agreeable  to  us  if  it  were  he  who 
were  ill." 

"What  do  you  mean?" 

"  He  is  going  away,  and  it  is  not  possible  for  us  to  stop 
him.  But  we  are  quite  certain  that  he  has  important  mes- 
sages to  carry  to  Vienna,  and  he  must  be  prevented  from 
reaching  there.  It  is  you  who  can  hold  him." 

"And  how?" 

"  Send  him  a  messenger  to  come  to  you  at  once.  He 
will  surely  come.  And  when  he  does,  it  must  be  your  care 
that  he  shall  fall  ill." 

She  interrupted  hastily.  "  I  have  vowed  never  to  do  that 
sort  of  thing  again." 

"  You  will  receive  absolution.  And  we  do  not  wish  that 
he  shall  die ;  in  fact,  that  would  make  it  very  disagreeable 
for  us." 

"  Do  what  you  will,"  she  said,  "  but  leave  me  out  of  it." 

"  Is  this  your  last  word,  countess  ?  " 

"  It  is." 

"  Well,  then,  it  will  have  to  be  arranged  that  the  traveler 
shall  meet  with  an  accident  on  his  journey." 

"And  Gritti?" 

"  We  will  speak  of  him  another  time.  Permit  me  to  lead 
you  back  to  your  guests." 

The  door  of  the  hall  opened  and  closed  behind  them. 

77 


German  Mystery  Stories 

Andrea  could  now  leave  his  post  without  danger,  but  the 
words  he  had  heard  lamed  him  in  mind  and  body.  He 
arose  with  difficulty  and  staggered  down  the  steps,  his  hand 
clutching  at  the  dagger  hidden  in  his  coat.  His  lips  were 
bleeding  where  his  teeth  had  pressed  them.  But  he  had 
sufficient  control  to  rejoin  Smeraldina,  to  chat  with  her  for 
a  few  moments,  leave  her  the  contents  of  his  purse,  and 
then  ask  her  to  lay  the  bridge  to  his  window  again.  As 
he  crossed  the  plank  with  a  steady  foot,  a  decision  stood 
firm  within  his  soul.  It  was  time  for  action  again;  action 
that  had  for  incentive  not  alone  the  great  cause  to  which 
he  had  devoted  himself.  He  must  strike,  and  strike  well, 
to  save  a  friend  from  treachery,  to  send  a  son  safe  home  to 
a  waiting  mother. 

He  walked  softly  through  the  corridor  of  his  own  house 
and  out  into  the  quiet  street  until  he  reached  the  little 
square  in  front  of  Leonora's  palace.  He  had  seen  no  wait- 
ing gondola  anywhere,  and  concluded  from  this  that  the 
man  he  sought  intended  to  go  home  on  foot.  The  black 
shadow  of  a  column  near  the  door  gave  him  sufficient 
shelter. 

He  stood  here,  his  dagger  firm  in  his  hand,  watching  and 
waiting.  In  his  heart  and  brain  the  vague  voices  that  had 
troubled  him  before  were  alive  again.  Cold  drops  stood 
out  on  his  forehead — with  a  sigh  of  relief  he  thought  to 
himself  that  this  might  be  the  last  time.  It  occurred  to 
him  that  Malapiero  would  probably  be  accompanied  by 
lackeys,  and  he  was  astonished  at  the  feeling  of  relief  it 
gave  him  to  think  that  it  would  be  useless  to  wait  this 
time.  But  just  as  he  was  about  to  move  from  his  shadow, 
the  door  of  the  palace  opposite  opened  and  a  single  stately 
figure  wrapped  in  a  cloak  stepped  out  into  the  black  night. 
White  hair  fell  from  under  the  hat  rim,  a  quick,  firm  step 
beat  the  stone  pavement  as  the  belated  wanderer  kept  close 
to  the  shadow  of  the  houses.  Now  he  had  approached  the 
blackness  where  stood  the  avenger ;  he  had  passed  him  ten 
or  twenty  steps ; — suddenly  he  heard  a  footfall  behind  him ; 
he  turned,  threw  back  his  coat  to  free  his  sword,  but  in  the 

78 


Paul  Heyse 

same  moment  he  staggered  and  fell — the  steel  had  struck 
to  his  heart. 

"  Mother !  my  poor  mother ! "  groaned  the  murdered 
man.  Then  his  head  sank  back  on  the  pavement,  and  his 
eyes  closed  forever. 

A  deep  silence  followed  the  words.  The  dead  man  lay 
stretched  across  the  street  with  arms  outthrown.  His  hat 
had  fallen  back  from  his  forehead,  and  under  the  disguise 
of  the  white  wig  curly  brown  hair  appeared,  the  youthful 
face  seemed  sleeping  in  the  pale  night  light.  A  step  or  two 
distant,  the  murderer  stood  leaning  against  the  wall  of 
the  nearest  house,  his  eyes  staring  wildly  at  the  face  op- 
posite him;  his  tortured  brain  trying  to  pierce  the  spell  of 
ghostly  enchantment  that  seemed  to  hold  it  enthralled. 
Must  he  not  see  in  this  face  the  features  of  the  old  man  he 
had  watched  a  few  moments  before  in  Leonora's  hall  ?  Was 
it  not  just  because  of  the  man  who  lay  here  that  he  had 
struck  the  blow?  And  what  was  it  that  the  man  there  had 
said  as  he  fell?  The  blood  rushed  back  from  his  head  to 
his  heart.  His  eyes,  suddenly  clearing,  could  plainly  see 
the  dagger  in  the  dead  man's  breast.  He  read  aloud  the 
words  on  the  handle,  words  that  his  own  hand  had  graven 
in  the  steel :  "  Death  to  all  Inquisitors ! "  The  thoughts 
whirled  through  his  brain  in  hideous  haste.  He  suddenly 
understood — it  was  no  miracle,  this  hideous  thing  that  had 
happened.  It  was  all  quite  natural.  The  boy  had  remained 
away  from  his  enchantress  throughout  the  day,  but  when 
evening  came  he  could  no  longer  resist  the  spell  of  the 
demon  and  had  come  to  her  door.  At  the  portal  they  had 
told  him  that  the  countess  was  not  alone,  and  he  had  turned 
to  leave  the  house  again.  And  then  it  was  that  his  only 
friend  in  all  the  city  had  sprung  upon  him  to  murder  him 
— to  murder  him  because  of  the  disguise  which  this  very 
friend  had  advised! 

The  door  of  the  palace  opened  again,  and  a  tall  figure 
wrapped  in  a  cloak  came  out  into  the  street.  The  light 
from  the  vestibule  fell  on  the  white  hair  of  Ser  Malapiero 
returning  to  his  home.  Andrea  looked  up,  the  horrible 

79 


German  Mystery  Stories 

irony  of  his  position  cutting  deep  into  his  soul.  There 
walked  the  man  from  whom  he  had  thought  to  free  the 
city,  to  free  the  helpless,  oppressed  citizens,  and  to  free  his 
own  friend.  This  man  walked  toward  him  alone,  unguarded 
save  in  the  mask  of  a  secret  which  his  enemy  had  pene- 
trated— there  was  nothing  to  turn  aside  the  dagger  that 
was  aimed  for  his  heart — but  this  dagger  was  stained  with 
innocent  blood,  the  Judge  and  Avenger  equally  sinful  with 
those  whom  he  had  condemned.  There  was  no  difference 
between  them,  except  that  the  one  had  been  impelled  by 
evil  chance,  the  others  by  evil  intention. 

All  this  whirled  through  Andrea's  brain.  He  started  up, 
drew  the  dagger  from  the  wound  and  fled  through  the 
shadow  before  the  aged  Triumvir  had  seen  him.  As  he 
ran,  his  heart  was  torn  by  the  agony  of  the  thought  that 
Malapiero  would  find  the  dead  man,  and  would  breathe  a 
thanks  to  the  unknown  murderer  who  had  relieved  him  of 
a  dangerous  and  difficult  task. 

It  was  long  past  midnight  when  a  man  sprang  out  of  a 
gondola  and  knocked  at  the  door  of  a  lonely  convent  that 
stood  on  a  little  point  of  land  far  out  beyond  the  city.  In 
the  convent  dwelt  a  few  Capuchin  monks  who  lived  on  the 
charity  of  the  surrounding  fishermen,  and  in  return  gave 
them  spiritual  aid  and  comfort.  The  solitary  man,  Andrea 
Delfin,  knocked  more  loudly  at  the  door.  A  moment  later 
a  voice  from  within  asked  who  it  was. 

"  A  dying  man,"  he  answered.  "  Call  brother  Pietro 
Maria  if  he  is  in  the  convent."  The  doorkeeper  retired, 
and  Andrea  sat  down  on  the  stone  bench  beside  the  house, 
took  a  notebook  from  his  pocket  and  began  to  write  hastily. 

This  was  what  he  wrote : 

"  To  Angela  Querine:  It  is  a  doomed  man  who  writes 
to  you  now,  a  doomed  man  to  whom  your  noble  deeds  gave 
courage  to  dare  to  resist  the  tyranny  which  had  crushed 
out  his  entire  family.  Do  you  remember  young  Candiano, 
who  many  years  before  was  introduced  to  you  in  the  Pa- 

80 


Paul  Heyse 

lazzo  Morosini?  I  was  then  a  young  man  living  the  cus- 
tomary life  of  pleasure  of  my  kind,  thinking  neither  of  the 
past  nor  the  future.  It  was  you  who  first  reminded  me  of 
the  great  deeds  my  forefathers  had  done  in  service  of  the 
State;  it  was  you  who  first  led  me  to  study  the  history  of 
my  poor  country  and  to  understand  how  terribly  this  Re- 
public of  Venice  had  fallen,  through  a  tyrant's  hand,  from 
her  once  high  estate.  Inspired  by  you,  I  won  my  brother 
Orso  from  his  life  of  idle  pleasure,  and  it  was  thus  we  drew 
down  upon  ourselves  the  vengeance  of  those  who  held  the 
power. 

"  I  will  not  trouble  you  with  a  recital  of  the  means  that 
were  taken  to  crush  out  our  family,  as  well  as  many  others 
of  the  independent  landed  nobility.  Enough  to  say  that 
my  brother  died  by  poison,  my  sister  perished  in  the  flames 
that  destroyed  our  home,  and  I  was  supposed  to  have 
shared  her  fate.  But  I  had  escaped,  how  I  do  not  know, 
and  by  sheerest  accident  I  had  found  papers  belonging  to 
one  of  my  servants.  This  afforded  me  a  possibility  of  al- 
lowing the  belief  in  my  death  to  spread  abroad  while  I 
could  sink  my  personality  in  that  of  another.  My  hair  had 
grown  white  in  a  single  night,  my  features  aged  as  if  by 
many  years. 

"  When  I  recovered  from  the  deep  apathy  into  which  the 
loss  of  all  those  dear  to  me  had  sunk  me,  I  had  but  one 
thought,  that  of  vengeance.  Then  came  —  I  was  living 
quietly  in  Brescia  under  the  name  of  my  servant  —  then 
came  the  news  of  your  noble  deed  and  its  shameful  defeat. 
I  gathered  my  broken  energy  together,  waited  for  a  while 
to  strengthen  my  hatred  and  my  purpose,  and  then  set  forth 
to  carry  out  in  secret,  by  my  own  hand  alone,  the  work 
which  you  could  not  perform  by  an  open  appeal  to  justice. 
I  felt  assured  that  there  was  no  hatred  in  my  soul  for  any 
one  person,  no  desire  for  revenge  for  personal  suffering, 
nothing  but  the  sacred  will  to  raise  my  hand  in  the  avenging 
of  the  sorrows  of  my  country. 

"  But  it  is  for  God  alone  to  mete  out  vengeance — I  would 
have  played  the  judge  and  have  become  a  murderer.  I 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

took  upon  myself  that  which  belonged  alone  to  God,  and 
God  has  punished  me  with  my  own  weapons,  and  has  al- 
lowed me  to  shed  innocent  blood.  It  is  not  yet  time  for  a 
task  such  as  mine — God  has  refused  the  sacrifice  that  I 
would  bring  him. 

"  I  go  now  to  meet  the  face  of  the  Highest  Judge,  that 
he  may  pass  judgment  upon  my  sin  and  my  suffering.  I 
have  nothing  more  to  expect  of  mankind.  Of  you  I  pray 
only  a  passing  pity  for  my  error  and  my  unhappiness. 

"  CANDIANO." 

Long  before  the  writer  had  finished,  the  door  of  the  con- 
vent had  opened  and  a  venerable  monk  stood  behind  him. 
Andrea  arose.  "  Pietro  Maria/'  he  said.  "  I  thank  you 
that  you  have  answered  my  call.  Will  you  grant  one  more 
request  to  an  unhappy  man,  and  take  this  letter  safely  to 
the  exile  in  Venice?  Will  you  promise  me?" 

"  I  promise  you." 

"  God  will  reward  you.    Farewell." 

He  turned  away  without  taking  the  hand  the  monk  held 
out  to  him,  entered  his  gondola  and  steered  toward  the 
open  sea.  The  old  man,  who  had  hastily  read  the  lines  on 
the  page  before  him,  called  after  him  in  alarm  and  begged 
him  to  return,  but  received  no  answer.  Greatly  moved  and 
excited,  the  venerable  monk  stood  watching  the  last  scion 
of  a  noble  family  pass  out  over  the  waves,  which  began  to 
dance  before  the  fresh  morning  breeze.  When  the  gondola 
was  near  the  gray  horizon  the  dark  figure  in  it  rose  to  its 
feet,  threw  back  a  farewell  look  over  land  and  sea,  and 
toward  the  dim  outlines  of  the  city  just  visible  above  the 
mists  of  the  lagoons.  One  moment  it  stood  motionless, 
then  with  a  spring  it  disappeared  beneath  the  waves. 

The  monk  who  watched  folded  his  hands  and  prayed  si- 
lently. Then  he  loosened  his  boat  from  its  chain  and  rowed 
out  into  the  sea  where  the  empty  gondola  danced  on  the 
crest  of  the  waves.  There  was  no  trace  of  the  man  who  had 
taken  it  out  to  this  lonely  spot. 

82 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

The  Singer 

I 

"TT  is  a  strange  occurrence,  truly,"  said  Councilor  Bol- 
nau  to  a  friend  whom  he  met  on  Broad  Street  in  B. 
"  You  must  confess  that  this  a  queer  age  we  live  in." 

"  You  mean  the  affair  in  the  North  ? "  answered  his 
friend.  "  Have  you  important  news,  councilor?  Has  your 
friend,  the  foreign  minister,  told  you  some  important  secret 
of  state?" 

"  Oh,  don't  bother  me  with  politics  or  state  secrets ;  let 
them  go  as  they  may.  I  mean  now  the  affair  of  Made- 
moiselle Bianetti." 

"  The  little  singer?  Has  she  been  engaged  again?  They 
say  the  conductor  of  the  orchestra  has  quarreled  with 
her " 

"  But  for  heaven's  sake ! "  cried  the  councilor  in  aston- 
ishment, "  where  have  you  been  hiding  yourself  that  you 
do  not  know  what  all  the  city  knows  ?  Have  you  not  heard 
what  has  happened  to  our  little  Bianetti  ?  " 

"  Not  a  word,  on  my  honor.    What  is  it,  then  ?  " 

"  Nothing  further  than  that  she  was  stabbed  to  death 
last  night." 

The  councilor  was  known  as  a  great  joker.  When  he 
made  his  usual  morning  promenade  up  and  down  Broad 
Street,  it  was  his  habit  to  stop  his  friends  and  tell  them  some 
wonderful  story.  This  particular  friend,  therefore,  was  not 
much  shocked  at  such  terrible  news.  Instead,  he  answered 
calmly:  "Is  that  all  you  know  to-day,  Bolnau?  Your 
imagination  must  have  given  out  if  you  exaggerate  to  this 
extent.  When  you  stop  me  another  time,  have  something 

83 


German  Mystery  Stories 

more  sensible  to  tell  me.  Otherwise,  I  shall  turn  down 
another  street  if  I  see  you  in  the  distance." 

"  He  won't  believe  me !  "  cried  the  councilor.  "  He  won't 
believe  me  !  If  I  had  told  you  that  the  Emperor  of  Morocco 
had  been  stabbed,  you  would  have  received  the  news  with 
gratitude  and  would  have  carried  it  further,  because  such 
news  from  Morocco  is  nothing  unusual.  But  if  they  kill  a 
singer  here  in  B.,  nobody  will  believe  it  until  they  see  the 
funeral.  But,  my  dear  friend,  it  is  true  this  time,  as  true 
as  that  I  am  an  honest  man." 

"  Man !  Think  of  what  you  are  saying!  "  cried  the  friend 
in  horror.  "  Dead,  you  say?  Mademoiselle  Bianetti  dead?  " 

"  She  was  not  dead  up  to  an  hour  ago,  but  I  heard  that 
she  was  in  a  very  bad  way." 

"But  tell  me  more,  for  mercy's  sake!  Are  we  in  Italy, 
then,  that  people  can  be  stabbed  to  death  here  in  our  city  ? 
Where  is  our  police  ? — how  could  it  have  happened  ?  " 

"  Don't  scream  so,  good  friend,"  replied  Bolnau  sooth- 
ingly, "  people  are  looking  at  us  from  the  windows.  How 
it  happened,  you  ask?  That  is  just  the  point — no  one 
knows  how  it  happened.  Yesterday  evening  the  young 
singer  was  at  the  masked  ball,  as  charming  and  amiable  as 
ever,  and  at  twelve  o'clock  last  night  Court  Physician 
Lange  was  awakened  from  a  sound  sleep  and  told  that 
Signora  Bianetti  was  dying  of  a  knife  wound.  The  whole 
city  is  talking  of  it — rank  nonsense,  of  course.  There  are 
several  circumstances  which  make  it  difficult  to  find  out 
the  truth.  For  instance,  she  will  allow  nobody  to  enter  her 
house  except  the  doctor  and  her  own  serving  people.  The 
court  knows  the  news  already,  and  the  order  has  been 
given  that  the  watch  should  not  go  through  that  street. 
The  entire  battalion  makes  the  detour  over  the  market 
place." 

"  You  don't  say  so !  But  does  no  one  know  how  it  could 
have  happened  ?  Have  they  no  clew  at  all  ?  " 

"  It  is  difficult  to  pick  out  the  truth  among  the  many 
rumors  that  are  going  about.  Our  little  Bianetti  is  a  very 
decent  girl,  one  must  acknowledge.  There  is  nothing  that 

84 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

could  be  said  against  her  reputation.  But  people  are  ma- 
licious, particularly  our  dear  ladies.  If  one  mentions  the 
respectable  life  the  poor  girl  leads,  they  will  shrug  their 
shoulders  and  hint  that  they  know  of  all  sorts  of  things 
from  her  past.  Her  past,  dear  Lord !  The  child  is  scarce 
seventeen  years  old,  and  has  been  here  for  a  year  and  a 
half.  What  chance  is  there  for  a  past  there?" 

"  Do  not  linger  so  long  on  the  preface,"  interrupted  his 
friend,  "  but  come  to  the  main  theme  of  your  story.  Do 
they  know  who  stabbed  her?" 

"  Why,  that  is  just  the  point,  as  I  have  already  told  you. 
People  insist  that  it  is  some  rejected  lover,  or  else  a  jealous 
lover,  who  has  tried  to  kill  her.  There  are  strange  circum- 
stances surrounding  the  case.  They  say  that  at  the  ball 
yesterday  evening  she  was  seen  talking  for  some  time  with 
a  masked  man  whom  no  one  knew.  She  left  the  hall  shortly 
after  that,  and  there  are  those  who  claim  to  have  seen 
that  the  man  drove  away  with  her  in  her  carriage.  This 
is  all  that  anyone  knows  for  a  certainty.  But  I  will  soon 
find  out  how  much  truth  there  is  to  it." 

"  Yes,  I  know  that  you  have  your  own  channel  for  news. 
You  have  probably  secured  some  one  among  those  sur- 
rounding the  signora  who  will  keep  you  aware  of  every- 
thing that  happens.  People  call  you  the  city  chronicler." 

"  Too  much  honor,"  laughed  the  councilor,  and  appeared 
flattered.  "  But  this  time  I  have  no  other  spy  than  Dr. 
Lange  himself.  You  must  have  noticed  that,  quite  con- 
trary to  my  usual  custom,  I  am  not  promenading  up  and 
down  the  length  of  the  street,  but  am  confining  myself  to 
this  block." 

"  I  have  noticed  it,  but  I  thought  you  were  endeavoring 
to  attract  the  eye  of  the  fair  Madame  Baruch." 

"Do  not  talk  to  me  of  the  Baruchs!  We  broke  off 
with  them  three  days  ago.  My  wife  says  that  Madame 
Baruch  plays  for  too  high  a  stake.  No,  Dr.  Lange  comes 
through  this  street  every  day  at  twelve  o'clock  on  his  way 
to  the  Palace.  I  am  standing  here  to  catch  him  when  he 
comes  around  the  corner." 

85 


German  Mystery  Stories 

"  Let  me  remain  with  you,"  said  his  friend ;  "  I  want  to 
hear  more  about  this  affair." 

"  Oh,  my  dear  friend,  don't  take  the  trouble  to  do  that," 
replied  Bolnau.  "  I  know  that  you  dine  at  twelve  o'clock ; 
do  not  allow  your  soup  to  grow  cold.  And,  furthermore, 
Lange  might  not  talk  so  freely  before  you.  Meet  me  this 
afternoon  in  the  cafe,  and  I  will  tell  you  everything.  But 
go  now — there  he  comes  around  the  corner." 


II 

"  I  DO  not  consider  the  wound  to  be  necessarily  fatal," 
said  Court  Physician  Lange,  after  the  first  greeting.  "  The 
knife  was  not  held  very  securely  in  the  hand  that  dealt  the 
blow.  She  is  conscious  again,  and,  apart  from  the  weak- 
ness which  has  followed  the  great  loss  of  blood,  there  is  no 
immediate  danger." 

The  councilor  put  his  arm  through  the  doctor's,  and  an- 
swered :  "  I  am  very  glad  to  hear  that.  I'll  walk  with  you 
these  few  blocks  to  the  Palace.  But  do  you  tell  me  some- 
thing more  about  this  affair.  No  one  seems  to  know  any- 
thing definite  about  the  manner  in  which  it  happened." 

"  I  can  assure  you,"  said  the  other,  "  the  whole  affair  is 
shrouded  in  the  deepest  mystery.  I  had  just  fallen  asleep 
when  my  Johann  awakened  me  with  the  news  that 'I  had 
been  sent  for  to  come  to  some  very  sick  person.  I  threw 
on  my  clothes  and  ran  to  the  next  room,  where  I  found 
a  pale  and  trembling  girl  who  whispered  to  me  that  I  was 
to  bring  bandages  with  me.  This  began  to  attract  my  at- 
tention. I  entered  the  carriage  hastily,  told  the  maid  to 
sit  on  the  box  with  Johann  to  show  him  the  way,  and  we 
drove  to  Lindenhof.  I  got  down  before  a  small  house, 
and  asked  the  maid  who  the  sick  person  was." 

"  I  can  imagine  how  astonished  you  were " 

"When  I  heard  that  it  was  Signora  Bianetti!  I  only 
knew  her  on  the  stage — had  seen  her  there  scarcely  two  or 
three  times.  But  the  mysterious  way  in  which  I  had  been 

86 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

called  to  her,  the  bandages  I  was  told  to  bring,  all  this 
aroused  my  curiosity  greatly.  We  mounted  a  short  stair 
and  went  through  a  narrow,  dark  hall.  The  maid  led  the 
way,  left  me  there  in  the  darkness  a  few  moments,  and  then 
returned  sobbing  and  even  paler  than  before. 

"  '  Come  in,  please,  doctor/  she  said.  '  Alas !  I  fear  you 
are  come  too  late — she  will  not  live  through  it.'  I  entered 
the  room.  It  was,  indeed,  a  terrible  sight." 

The  physician  was  quiet  a  moment,  his  face  darkening. 
He  seemed  to  be  looking  at  some  picture  which  depressed 
him.  "  Well,  and  what  did  you  see  ?  ft  cried  his  companion, 
impatient  at  the  interruption. 

"  I  have  seen  many  things  in  my  life,"  continued  the 
doctor,  after  a  pause — "  many  things  that  have  alarmed  me,, 
many  things  that  have  aroused  my  pity ;  but  I  have  seldom 
seen  anything  that  so  touched  my  heart  as  did  the  sight 
that  met  my  eyes  there.  In  a  dimly  lighted  room  a  pale 
young  woman  lay  stretched  out  upon  the  sofa.  An  old 
servant  knelt  beside  her,  holding  a  cloth  to  her  heart.  I 
came  nearer;  the  head  of  the  dying  woman  lay  thrown 
back,  white  and  fixed  as  the  head  of  a  statue.  Her  long 
black  hair,  her  dark  eyebrows  and  lashes  formed  a  terrify- 
ing contrast  with  the  startling  whiteness  of  her  forehead, 
her  face,  and  her  beautiful  rounded  throat.  The  full  folds 
of  her  white  garments,  which  were  doubtless  part  of  her 
masquerade  costume,  were  stained  with  blood.  There  was 
blood  upon  the  floor  and  upon  the  sofa,  blood  that  poured 
out  from  her  heart  in  a  crimson  stream.  This  was  what  I 
saw  in  that  first  moment.  Then  I  recognized  that  it  was 
the  singer  Bianetti." 

"  Oh,  how  very  touching ! "  said  the  councilor,  much 
moved,  and  wiping  his  eyes  with  a  large  silk  handkerchief. 
"  She  lay  just  like  that  a  week  ago  when  she  sang  '  Des- 
demona.'  The  effect  was  so  alarmingly  real,  one  could 
almost  think  that  the  Moor  had  really  killed  her.  And 
to  think  that  such  a  thing  should  in  very  truth  happen 
to  her!  " 

"  Did  I  not  forbid  you  to  allow  yourself  to  become  ex- 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

cited?"  interrupted  the  physician;  "do  you  want  to  bring 
on  another  attack?" 

"  You  are  right,"  said  the  councilor,  putting  his  hand- 
kerchief back  in  his  pocket,  "  you  are  right — my  constitu- 
tion does  not  permit  me  any  excitement.  Continue  to  tell 
me  what  you  know,  and  I  will  count  the  window  panes  in 
the  War  Office  as  we  pass;  that  helps  to  calm  me." 

"  If  that  doesn't  help,  you  might  take  the  second  stor>r 
of  the  Palace  also. 

"  The  old  servant  removed  the  cloth,  and  to  my  aston- 
ishment I  saw  a  wound  very  near  the  heart,  which  had 
evidently  been  made  by  a  knife  or  a  dagger.  There  was 
no  time  to  ask  questions,  however  much  I  may  have  wished 
to  do  so.  I  examined  the  wound,  and  bound  it  up.  During 
the  operation  the  wounded  girl  had  given  no  sign  of  life 
except  that  she  had  started  and  quivered  when  I  probed  the 
wound.  I  let  her  rest  just  as  she  lay,  and  watched  her 
slumbers  carefully." 

"  But  the  two  serving  maids — did  you  not  question  them 
about  the  wound  ?  " 

"You  are  my  good  friend,  councilor;  therefore  I  will 
confess  to  you  that  when  I  had  bound  up  the  wound  and 
could  do  no  more  for  the  moment,  I  told  the  servants  that 
I  would  do  nothing  more  for  the  lady  until  they  gave  me 
some  explanation  as  to  what  had  happened." 

"  And  what  did  they  say  ?  " 

"  That  the  singer  came  home  shortly  after  eleven  o'clock 
in  company  with  a  tall  man  who  wore  a  mask.  I  may  have 
shown  some  expression  in  my  face  at  this  news,  for  the 
two  women  began  to  weep,  and  implored  me  not  to  think 
ill  of  their  young  lady.  They  had  been  with  her  for  some 
time,  they  said,  and  they  had  never  seen  any  man  enter  the 
house  after  four  o'clock  in  the  afternoon.  The  young  girl, 
who  probably  had  been  reading  romances,  said  that  the 
signora  was  an  angel  of  purity." 

"  I  would  say  that  myself,"  said  the  councilor,  busily 
counting  the  window  panes  in  the  Palace,  which  they  were 
approaching.  "  I  would  say  that  myself.  One  can  find 

88 


Wilhdm  Hauff 

nothing  to  say  against  Signora  Bianetti.  She  is  a  good, 
pious  child.  Is  it  her  fault  that  she  is  beautiful,  and  that 
she  must  support  herself  by  her  singing?" 

"  You  can  believe  me,"  replied  Lange,  "  a  physician  can 
see  deeply  in  these  matters.  One  look  at  the  pure  features 
of  the  unhappy  girl  convinced  me  of  her  innocence  far 
more  than  did  the  vows  of  her  handmaiden.  The  latter, 
probably  from  curiosity  as  to  this  strange  midnight  visit, 
had  remained  near  the  door.  She  heard  excited  words  pass 
between  her  mistress  and  the  stranger,  who  had  a  deep, 
hollow  voice.  They  spoke  in  French.  The  signora  finally 
began  to  weep  bitterly,  and  the  man  cursed  horribly.  Sud- 
denly she  heard  a  sharp  scream  in  her  mistress's  voice. 
Alarmed  at  this,  she  opened  the  door,  and  the  man  in  the 
mask  rushed  hastily  past  her  and  through  the  hall  to  the 
stairs.  The  maid  followed  him  for  a  few  steps,  and  heard 
a  great  noise  at  the  bottom  of  the  staircase — a  noise  as  if 
he  had  fallen.  She  heard  him  groaning  and  moaning,  but 
she  was  too  terrified  to  go  a  step  farther  in  that  direction. 
She  ran  back  into  the  room — there  lay  the  lady  covered 
with  blood,  her  eyes  closed  as  if  she  were  dead.  The  girl 
was  so  alarmed  that  she  did  not  know  what  to  do  at  first. 
She  awoke  the  old  woman,  told  her  to  do  what  she  could 
for  their  mistress,  while  she  herself  ran  to  fetch  me " 

"And  Signora  Bianetti  herself  has  said  nothing?  Did 
you  not  question  her  ?  " 

"  I  went  to  the  police  station  at  once  and  awoke  the  com- 
missioner. He  ordered  a  search  of  all  the  taverns  and  of 
all  dark  corners  of  the  city  where  criminals  are  wont  to 
hide.  No  one  had  passed  the  gates  in  that  last  hour,  and 
orders  went  out  that  anyone  who  passed  after  that  should 
be  examined.  The  owners  of  the  little  house,  who  lived  in 
the  upper  story,  did  not  even  know  of  the  affair  until  the 
police  came  to  search  their  dwelling.  It  is  quite  incredible 
that  the  murderer  could  have  escaped,  for  he  must  have 
injured  himself  severely  in  his  fall  down  the  stairs.  The 
lower  steps  were  stained  with  blood.  It  is  likely  that  he 
wounded  himself  with  his  own  dagger.  It  is  still  more 


German  Mystery  Stories 

impossible  to  understand  how  he  could  have  escaped,  as 
the  house  door  was  closed.  Signora  Bianetti  became  con- 
scious at  ten  o'clock  this  morning,  and  when  examined 
by  the  chief  of  police,  declared  that  she  had  no  idea  who 
the  man  in  the  mask  could  be.  All  physicians  and  surgeons 
are  compelled,  as  you  perhaps  know,  to  report  any  such 
wounds  at  once  to  the  authorities,  to  aid  in  the  capture  of 
the  murderer.  This  is  the  affair  as  it  stands  now.  But  I 
am  convinced  that  there  is  some  deep  secret  here  which  the 
singer  will  not  reveal.  Signora  Bianetti  is  not  the  sort  of 
woman  who  would  allow  a  strange  man  to  accompany  her 
home  at  that  hour.  Her  handmaiden,  who  was  present 
at  the  examination,  seems  to  suspect  something  of  the  kind. 
For,  when  she  saw  that  the  signora  did  not  intend  to  say 
anything,  she  herself  said  nothing  about  the  quarrel  she 
had  heard,  and  threw  me  a  look  which  seemed  to  implore 
me  to  be  silent  also.  '  This  is  a  terrible  affair/  she  said  as 
she  led  me  out  to  the  stairway  again,  '  but  nobody  in  the 
world  can  make  me  betray  what  my  signora  does  not  wish 
to  have  known/  Then  she  confessed  something  else  to  me, 
something  which  may  throw  light  on  this  sad  affair/' 

"Well — and  may  I  not  know  what  this  something  else 
is  ?  "  asked  the  councilor.  "  You  see  how  curious  I  am. 
Do  not  keep  me  in  suspense,  if  you  do  not  wish  me  to  have 
one  of  my  attacks." 

"  Tell  me,  Bolnau,  do  you  know  whether  there  is  anyone 
else  of  your  name  in  this  city  ?  Or  do  you  know  of  anyone 
of  that  name  anywhere  else  in  the  world?  And  if  you  do, 
where  is  he  and  who  is  he  ?  " 

"  I  know  of  no  one  else  in  this  town/'  answered  Bolnau. 
"  When  I  moved  here  about  eight  years  ago,  I  was  pleased 
to  think  that  my  name  was  not  Meier,  or  Muller,  or  any- 
thing else  that  one  finds  by  the  dozen,  causing  great  trouble 
and  inconvenience.  In  Cassel  I  was  the  only  man  in  my 
family.  And  I  know  of  no  other  Bolnau  in  the  whole  world 
except  my  son,  that  unhappy  music-mad  fool.  He  has 
gone  to  America,  I  believe,  and  has  disappeared  altogether. 
But  why  do  you  ask  this  question,  doctor  ?  " 

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Wilhelm  Hauff 

"  Well,  it  can't  be  meant  for  you,  councilor,  and  your  son 
is  in  America ;  but  it  is  already  a  quarter  past  twelve  o'clock ! 
Princess  Sophie  is  ill,  and  here  I  stand  chatting  with  you. 
Farewell  and  au  revoir !  " 

"  You  don't  move  one  step,"  cried  Bolnau,  holding  the 
doctor's  arm,  "  until  you  tell  me  what  it  was  the  girl  said." 

"  I  will,  but  you  must  not  reveal  it  to  a  soul.  The  sing- 
er's last  word,  breathed  just  as  she  sank  down  unconscious, 
was — Bolnau" 

III 

No  one  had  ever  seen  Councilor  Bolnau  in  so  serious 
and  gloomy  a  mood  as  he  was  after  he  had  parted  from 
Dr.  Lange  in  front  of  the  Palace.  He  was  usually  so  cheery 
and  bright  when  he  made  his  morning  promenade,  and  had 
such  an  amiable  smile  for  all  the  ladies  he  met,  such  merry 
jokes  for  his  men  friends,  that  no  one  would  have  taken 
him  to  be  sixty  years  old.  He  had,  indeed,  all  possible 
cause  for  cheeriness.  He  had  made  a  neat  fortune  for  him- 
self, had  won  the  title  of  Councilor  of  Commerce,  and  then 
had  retired  to  enjoy  life  in  his  pretty  home  in  B.  in  com- 
pany with  a  wife  who  was  as  fond  of  all  good  things  as  he 
was  himself.  He  had  one  son,  whom  he  had  intended 
to  make  his  successor  in  business.  But  the  boy  had  but  one 
interest,  his  love  for  music.  All  business,  trading  and  com- 
merce was  hateful  to  him.  The  father  had  a  hard,  stubborn 
head ;  the  son  also.  The  father  was  apt  to  be  violent  and 
exaggerated  in  excitement;  the  son  also. 

When  the  son  had  just  passed  twenty,  the  father  was 
fifty  years  old,  and  ready  to  retire  and  to  leave  his  business 
to  his  son.  But  one  fine  summer  evening  the  son  disap- 
peared, taking  nothing  with  him  but  a  few  piano  scores  of 
his  favorite  operas.  From  England  he  wrote  his  father  a 
friendly  letter,  saying  that  he  was  going  to  America.  The 
councilor  wished  him  good  luck  for  his  journey,  and  then 
moved  his  household  to  B. 

The  thought  of  this  music-mad  fool,  as  he  dubbed  his 

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son,  rendered  many  an  hour  gloomy  for  him.  He  had  told 
the  boy  never  to  show  himself  before  him  again ;  hence,  he 
knew  that  he  need  never  expect  to  see  his  son  unless  he 
sent  for  him.  It  seemed  to  him  at  times  that  he  had  been 
foolish  to  insist  on  putting  the  boy  into  trade.  But  years 
passed,  and  a  busy  life  of  pleasure  gave  him  little  time  for 
sad  thoughts.  His  days  were  spent  in  seeking  for  amuse- 
ment, and  if  one  wanted  to  behold  him  at  his  merriest,  one 
could  do  it  easily  between  eleven  and  twelve  o'clock  in 
Broad  Street.  There  one  could  see  a  tall,  thin  man  in 
modishly  cut  garments  with  a  lorgnette  and  a  riding  whip, 
whose  quick  movements  contrasted  amusingly  with  his  gray 
hairs.  He  bowed  incessantly  to  the  right  and  to  the  left, 
stopping  every  two  paces  to  talk  to  some  one  and  to  laugh 
merrily.  If  one  were  a  stranger  and  saw  such  a  man  at 
the  hour  named,  one  could  be  certain  that  it  was  Councilor 
Bolnau. 

But  to-day  all  was  different.  If  the  news  of  the  sad  ac- 
cident to  the  singer  had  excited  him,  the  doctor's  last 
words  threw  him  into  a  fright  that  almost  lamed  him. 
"  Her  last  word  before  she  became  unconscious  was  Bolnaul 
She  had  spoken  his  honest  name  under  such  suspicious  cir- 
cumstances?" His  knees  trembled,  his  head  drooped. 
"  Bolnau !  "  he  thought — "  Bolnau,  royal  Councilor  of  Com- 
merce !  Suppose  the  singer  were  to  die,  and  the  maid- 
servant were  to  tell  her  secret!  The  police  authorities 
would  then  know  all  about  the  murder,  and  all  about  this 
terrible  last  word.  What  could  not  a  clever,  ambitious  law- 
yer make  of  this  single  word,  some  young  man  who  was 
anxious  to  make  a  name  by  a  cause  celebre?  "  The  coun- 
cilor put  up  his  lorgnette  and  stared  in  despair  at  the  prison, 
the  gables  of  which  he  could  just  see  in  the  distance.  "  That 
would  be  your  goal,  Bolnau.  Perhaps  they  would  make  it 
a  short  term  only,  because  of  many  years  of  faithful  service 
to  your  country !  " 

He  breathed  heavily  and  loosened  his  cravat,  then 
dropped  his  hand  with  a  start  of  terror.  Was  not  that  the 
spot  the  rope  encircled  ? — that  the  cold  steel  cut  through  ? 

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Wilhelm  Hauff 

If  he  met  an  acquaintance  who  bowed  to  him,  he  said 
to  himself :  "  He  knows  about  it  already,  and  wants  to  show 
me  that  he  understands."  If  another  friend  passed  hastily 
without  seeing  him,  then  he  was  sure  that  this  person  knew 
also  all  about  it  and  did  not  wish  any  further  acquaintance 
with  a  murderer.  A  little  more,  and  he  would  soon  come 
to  believe  that  he  himself  had  really  committed  the  murder. 
It  was  no  wonder  that  he  made  a  wide  curve  to  avoid  the 
police  station.  Might  not  the  commissioner  be  standing 
at  the  window,  see  him,  and  call  down  to  him,  "  Come  up 
here  a  moment,  I  have  a  word  to  say  to  you  "?  He  al- 
ready felt  a  guilty  trembling  in  all  his  limbs ;  he  was  already 
conscious  of  a  desire  to  control  all  possible  emotion  in  his 
face.  Was  it  not  he  whom  the  unfortunate  singer  had  ac- 
cused with  her  last  word? 

Then  he  suddenly  remembered  that  all  this  emotion  was 
exceedingly  bad  for  his  health.  He  looked  eagerly  about 
for  window  panes  to  count,  but  the  houses  danced  before 
his  eyes,  and  the  church  steeple  seemed  to  drop  him  a  mock- 
ing courtesy.  A  terror  of  alarm  seized  him ;  he  ran  hastily 
through  the  streets  until  he  sank  down  breathless  in  his 
own  armchair.  His  first  question,  when  he  had  come  to 
himself  again,  was  whether  anyone  from  the  police  station 
had  come  to  ask  for  him. 


IV 


WHEN  Dr.  Lange  came  to  see  his  patient  that  evening, 
he  found  her  much  better  than  he  had  hoped.  He  sat 
down  beside  her  bed  and  began  to  talk  with  her  about  the 
unfortunate  affair.  She  was  resting  one  elbow  on  her  pil- 
lows, while  her  delicate  hand  supported  her  beautiful  head. 
Her  face  was  still  very  pale ;  her  great  exhaustion  seemed 
to  give  her  but  one  charm  the  more,  and  her  dark  eyes  had 
lost  nothing  of  their  expressiveness,  nothing  of  the  fire 
which  had  attracted  the  doctor,  even  though  he  was  no 
longer  in  those  years  where  imagination  heightens  beauty. 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

He  said  to  himself  that  he  had  seldom  seen  so  sweet  a  face. 
Her  features  were  not  regular,  but  there  was  a  harmony, 
a  charm  about  them  for  which  he  could  not  find  the  reason 
at  first.  But  his  eyes,  experienced  in  reading  the  soul,  soon 
saw  that  it  was  the  nobility,  the  purity  of  her  spirit,  which 
shed  such  a  radiance  over  her  virginal  beauty.  "  You  seem 
to  be  studying  my  features,  doctor,"  said  the  singer,  smiling. 
"  You  sit  there  so  quiet  looking  at  me,  and  you  seem  to 
forget  what  I  have  just  asked  you.  Or  perhaps  you  do  not 
wish  to  give  the  answer.  May  I  not  know  what  people  say 
about  my  misfortune  ?  " 

"  Why  should  you  wish  to  hear  all  the  foolish  gossip 
started  by  idle  tongues  ?  I  was  just  thinking  how  pure  your 
soul  shines  out  from  your  eyes.  You  have  found  peace 
within  yourself;  what,  therefore,  do  you  care  for  the  opin- 
ions of  others  ?  " 

"  You  are  evading  me,"  she  answered.  "  You  wish  to 
avoid  giving  me  an  answer  by  paying  me  compliments. 
Why  should  I  not  care  for  the  opinion  of  others?  What 
honest  girl  may  dare  to  ignore  the  society  in  which  she 
lives — may  dare  to  say  that  it  is  of  no  importance  to  her 
what  people  say  about  her?  Or  do  you  believe,  perhaps," 
she  continued  more  gravely,  "  that  I  do  not  care  about  the 
gossip  because  I  belong  to  a  profession  in  which  the  world 
has  little  confidence?  Confess  that  you  take  me  to  be  as 
careless  as  some  of  the  others ! " 

"  Most  assuredly  not.  I  have  never  heard  anything  but 
good  said  about  you,  Signora  Bianetti.  What  else  would 
there  be  but  good  to  say  of  your  quiet,  retired  life,  and  of 
your  calm  reserve  when  you  do  go  out  into  the  world  ?  But 
why  do  you  insist  upon  knowing  what  they  say  now?  As 
your  physician,  I  may  not  think  that  it  is  yet  time  to  tell 
you." 

"  Oh,  please,  doctor — please  do  not  torture  me  like  this," 
she  cried.  "  I  can  read  in  your  eyes  that  it  is  no  good 
thing  they  say  of  me  now.  Do  you  not  think  that  this  un- 
certainty is  far  worse  for  me  than  the  truth  could  be  ?  " 

The  doctor  saw  the  truth  of  this  last  remark,  and  he 

94 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

feared  also  that  during  his  absence  some  gossiping  woman 
might  intrude  upon  his  patient  and  tell  her  worse  things 
than  he  would  say. 

"  You  know  the  people  here,"  he  began.  "  B.  is  quite 
a  city,  but  when  an  event  of  this  kind  happens  we  learn 
how  provincial  we  still  are.  It  is  true  that  everyone  in  the 
city  is  talking  about  you  now,  but  you  cannot  be  surprised 
at  that.  And  as  nothing  definite  is  known,  why  then — 
why  then,  they  invent  all  sorts  of  things.  For  instance,  this 
masked  man  to  whom  you  were  seen  talking  at  the  ball, 
and  who  without  doubt  is  the  person  who  committed  this 
deed,  they  say  that  he  is " 

"  Well,  what  do  they  say  ?  "  begged  the  singer  in  excite- 
ment. "  Please  tell  me." 

"  They  say  that  it  is  some  former  lover  who  knew  you 
in  some  other  city,  and  who  tried  to  kill  you  because  of 
jealousy." 

"  They  can  say  that !  Oh,  how  miserable  I  am ! "  she 
cried  in  emotion,  while  tears  shone  in  her  beautiful  eyes. 
"  How  hard  people  are  toward  a  poor  unprotected  girl. 
But  tell  me  more,  doctor,  tell  me  more!  You  are  keeping 
something  from  *me,  I  know  it.  What  other  city  do  they 
say  was  it  that " 

"  Signora,  I  should  have  thought  that  you  had  more  self- 
control!"  said  Lange,  alarmed  at  the  excitement  of  his 
patient.  "  In  truth  I  am  sorry  that  I  have  already  said  so 
much.  I  would  not  have  said  even  this  had  I  not  feared 
that  some  one  else  might  do  so." 

The  singer  dried  her  tears  hastily.  "  I  will  be  very  quiet," 
she  said  with  a  sad  smile.  "  I  will  be  as  quiet  as  a  good 
child.  I  will  try  to  think  that  all  these  people  who  are 
now  condemning  me  were  applauding  me.  And  now  tell 
me  more,  dear  good  doctor,  tell  me  more !  " 

"  Oh,  well,  these  idle  tongues  say  stupid  things,"  con- 
tinued the  physician  reluctantly.  "  It  seems  that  the  other 
evening,  when  you  appeared  in  '  Othello,'  there  was  a 
strange  nobleman  here  visiting  some  one  in  the  city.  He  is 
said  to  have  recognized  you  and  to  have  declared  that 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

about  two  years  ago  he  saw  you  in  Paris  in  exceedingly  bad 
company — but,  dear  me — you  are  so  pale " 

"  No,  no,  the  tamp  is  growing  dim ;  tell  me  more !  " 

"  This  talk  went  about  in  the  higher  circles  only  at  first, 
but  a  little  later  it  leaked  out,  and  the  general  public  seemed 
to  know  of  it.  Now  that  this  affair  has  occurred,  people 
are  trying  to  connect  the  two,  and  they  say  that  the  crime 
has  something  to  do  with  your  former  life  in  Paris." 

The  expressive  features  of  the  sick  girl  had  changed  from 
deepest  pallor  to  flaming  red  during  the  last  sentences.  She 
had  raised  herself  up  in  bed  as  if  she  would  not  lose  a  word 
of  it,  her  eyes  rested  hotly  upon  the  mouth  of  her  physi- 
cian, she  scarcely  seemed  to  breathe.  "  Ah,  now  it  is  all 
over!  "  she  cried,  while  tears  burst  from  her  eyes.  "  If  he 
should  hear  this,  it  would  be  too  much  for  his  jealous  na- 
ture. Why  did  I  not  die  yesterday?  Then  I  should  have 
been  with  my  good  father  and  my  sweet  mother — they 
would  have  comforted  me,  and  I  should  not  have  known 
the  scorn  of  these  cruel  people !  " 

The  doctor  was  still  pondering  over  these  strange  words, 
and  was  seeking  some  comfort  to  give  her,  when  the  door 
flew  open  hastily  and  a  tall  young  man  rushed  in.  His  face 
was  very  handsome,  but  his  features  were  darkened  by  an 
expression  of  wild  defiance;  his  eyes  rolled,  his  hair  hung 
loose  around  his  forehead.  He  had  a  large  roll  of  music 
in  one  hand,  with  which  he  gesticulated  violently  before 
he  could  find  breath  to  speak.  The  singer  cried  out  at 
his  entrance.  The  doctor  thought  at  first  that  her  scream 
was  one  of  fear;  but  he  saw  in  a  moment  that  it  was  joy, 
for  a  sweet  smile  had  parted  her  lips  and  her  eyes  shone 
through  the  tears. 

"  Carlo !  "  she  cried.  "  Carlo !  Are  you  come  at  last  to 
see  me  ?  " 

"  Miserable  woman !  "  cried  the  young  man,  stretching 
his  arm,  with  the  roll  of  music,  majestically  toward  her. 
"  Let  me  hear  no  more  of  your  siren  song.  I  am  come — 
to  judge  you !  " 

"  Oh,  Carlo !  "  interrupted  the  singer,  her  voice  as  soft 

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Wilhelm  Hauff 

and  sweet  as  the  tones  of  a  flute.  "  How  can  you  speak 
so  to  your  Giuseppa!  " 

The  young  man  was  apparently  preparing  an  answer, 
when  the  doctor,  who  found  this  scene  much  too  exciting 
for  his  patient,  intervened  between  them.  "  My  dear  Mr. 
Carlo,"  he  said,  offering  him  his  snuff-box,  "  would  you 
kindly  remember  that  mademoiselle  is  in  no  condition  to 
have  her  nerves  played  upon  in  such  manner?  " 

The  stranger  turned  wide  eyes  on  him,  and  pointing  the 
roll  at  him  inquired,  in  a  deep,  threatening  voice,  "  Who 
are  you,  earthworm,  that  you  dare  intervene  between  me 
and  my  anger  ?  " 

"  I  am  Court  Physician  Lange,"  replied  the  latter,  clos- 
ing his  snuff-box.  "  And  among  my  several  titles  there  is 
nothing  about  an  earthworm.  I  am  master  here  as  long 
as  the  signora  is  ill,  and  I  tell  you  in  all  kindness  that  I 
will  put  you  out  unless  you  modulate  your  presto  assai  to 
a  respectable  larghetto" 

"  Oh,  do  not  worry  him,  doctor,"  cried  the  sick  woman 
anxiously.  "  Do  not  make  him  angry.  Carlo  is  my  friend 
— he  will  not  harm  me,  whatever  evil  tongues  may  have  told 
him  concerning  me." 

"  Ha !  You  dare  to  mock  me  ?  But  know,  miserable 
creature,  the  lightning  has  burst  the  door  of  your  secret, 
and  illumined  the  night  in  which  I  have  been  walking! 
Was  it  because  of  this  that  you  would  not  let  me  know 
where  you  came  from?  who  you  were?  For  this  reason, 
therefore,  did  you  close  my  mouth  with  kisses  when  I  would 
ask  about  your  past  life?  Fool  that  I  am,  to  let  myself  be 
charmed  by  a  woman's  voice,  although  I  knew  that  it  is 
but  deception  and  falsity.  Only  in  the  song  of  man  is  there 
truth  and  strength,  del!  How  could  I  let  myself  be  car- 
ried away  by  the  roulades  of  a  worthless  creature !  " 

"  Oh,  Carlo !  "  whispered  the  invalid,  "  if  you  only  knew 
how  your  words  wound  my  heart!  Your  suspicions  strike 
deeper  than  did  the  murderer's  steel !  " 

The  stranger  laughed  a  harsh  laugh.  "  Ah,  yes,  indeed, 
my  fair  dove !  You  would  wish  your  lovers  deaf  and  blind, 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

would  you  not?  This  Parisian  must  have  been  a  clever 
fellow  to  find  you  again  so  soon." 

"  This  is  too  much !  "  cried  the  doctor,  catching  the  other 
by  the  arm.  "  You  leave  this  room  at  once  or  I  will  call 
up  the  janitor  of  the  house  to  put  you  out  with  violence." 

"  I'm  going,  earthworm,  I'm  going !  "  cried  the  stranger, 
pushing  the  doctor  gently  down  into  an  armchair.  "  I  am 
going,  Giuseppa,  never  to  return  again !  If  you  die,  miser- 
able woman,  hide  your  soul  in  some  corner  where  I  can 
never  meet  you !  I  would  curse  Heaven  if  I  must  share  it 
with  you! — you  have  robbed  me  so  cruelly  of  my  love,  of 
my  very  life !  "  He  gesticulated  again  with  the  roll  of 
music,  but  his  wildly  rolling  eye  was  dim  with  tears  as  he 
threw  a  last  look  at  the  sick  girl  and  then  rushed  sobbing 
from  the  room. 

"  Oh,  follow  him,  stop  him !  "  cried  the  singer.  "  Bring 
him  back,  or  I  shall  never  be  happy  again !  " 

"  No,  indeed,  my  dear  young  lady,"  replied  Dr.  Lange, 
getting  up  out  of  his  armchair.  "  We  must  have  no  more 
such  scenes  here.  I  will  prescribe  for  you  some  soothing 
drops,  which  you  must  take  every  hour." 

The  poor  girl  had  sunk  back  in  her  cushions  and  had 
fainted  again.  The  doctor  called  a  servant  and  they  worked 
together  to  restore  the  patient  to  her  senses.  During  this 
time  the  doctor  could  not  resist  the  temptation  to  scold  the 
serving  maid.  "  Did  I  not  tell  you  that  nobody  should  be 
allowed  to  enter  this  room?  And  here  you  let  this  crazy 
man  in,  who  was  near  being  the  death  of  your  young 
lady!" 

"  I  didn't  let  anybody  in,"  answered  the  girl,  sobbing. 
"  But  I  couldn't  refuse  him.  Signora  sent  me  to  his  house 
three  times  already  to-day  to  implore  him  to  come  to  her, 
if  only  for  a  moment.  I  was  to  say  that  she  was  dying 
and  that  she  must  see  him  once  more  before  her  death." 

"  Indeed?    And  who  is  this " 

The  sick  woman  opened  her  eyes.  She  looked  first  at  the 
doctor  then  at  her  servant,  then  her  eyes  wandered  uneasily 
about  the  room.  "  He  is  gone,  he  is  gone  forever,"  she 

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Wilhelm  Hauff 

whispered  weakly.  "  Oh,  dear  doctor,  please  go  to  Bol- 
nau !  " 

"  For  mercy's  sake,  what  do  you  want  of  my  poor  old 
councilor?  This  affair  has  already  thrown  him  on  a  sick 
bed.  How  could  he  possibly  help  you? " 

"  I  made  a  mistake,"  she  said.  "  I  meant  you  should  go 
to  my  friend,  the  foreign  orchestra  leader.  His  name  is 
Boloni,  and  he  lives  in  the  Hotel  de  Portugal." 

"  I  remember  having  heard  about  him,"  said  the  doctor. 
"  But  what  shall  I  say  to  him  when  I  see  him  ?  " 

"  Tell  him  that  I  will  explain  everything  if  he  will  only 
come  once  more — but  no,  I  could  never  tell  him  myself — 
would  you  tell  him,  doctor  ?  I  have  such  confidence  in  you 
— if  I  told  you  everything,  you  would  explain  it  to  him, 
would  you  not  ?  " 

"  I  am  quite  at  your  disposal,  and  will  do  everything  I 
can  to  ease  your  mind." 

"  Then  come  back  to-morrow  morning.  I  do  not  feel 
able  to  talk  any  more  to-day.  And  one  thing  more.  Ba- 
bette,  give  the  doctor  his  handkerchief." 

The  servant  opened  a  cupboard  and  handed  the  doctor  a 
handkerchief  of  yellow  silk  which  exhaled  a  strong  but 
pleasant  perfume. 

"  This  is  not  mine,"  said  the  doctor.  "  I  use  only  linen 
handkerchiefs.  You  have  made  a  mistake  in  the  owner." 

"  But  that  is  impossible,  sir,"  replied  the  girl.  "  We  found 
it  on  the  floor  last  night.  It  does  not  belong  to  any  of  us, 
and  no  one  has  been  here  but  yourself." 

The  doctor's  eyes  met  those  of  his  patient,  which  were 
resting  in  anxious  expectation  on  his  face.  "  Could  not  this 
belong  to — some  one  else  ?  "  he  asked  firmly. 

"  Show  it  to  me,"  she  replied  anxiously.  "  I  had  not 
thought  of  that."  She  examined  the  cloth  and  found  a 
monogram  in  one  corner.  Her  cheek  paled  and  she  began 
to  tremble. 

"  You  seem  to  know  that  name.  You  perhaps  know  also 
the  person  who  has  lost  this  handkerchief  ? "  continued 
Lange.  "  It  might  be  of  use  to  us ;  may  I  take  it  with  me  ?  " 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

Giuseppa  seemed  fighting  with  herself  for  a  decision. 
Finally  she  said :  "  Take  it !  Even  if  the  terrible  man 
should  come  once  more,  and  better  strike  my  suffering  heart 
this  time — even  then!  Take  it,  doctor.  To-morrow  I  will 
explain  this  handkerchief  and  other  things  to  you." 


IT  is  easy  to  imagine  how  completely  this  affair  occupied 
the  thoughts  of  Dr.  Lange.  His  extensive  practice  was  as 
much  of  a  burden  to  him  now  as  it  had  hitherto  been  a 
delight.  The  many  other  visits  he  was  obliged  to  make 
kept  him  away  from  the  singer  until  quite  late  the  follow- 
ing morning,  in  spite  of  his  impatience  to  be  at  her  bedside. 
But  these  visits  were  not  quite  an  unmixed  evil,  for  in  all 
the  different  houses  he  could  listen  to  what  was  being  said 
about  Signora  Bianetta.  And  he  hoped  also  to  be  able  to 
learn  something  more  about  her  strange  lover,  Boloni. 

The  opinions  as  to  the  singer  were  not  very  favorable. 
The  judgment  was  all  the  harsher  because  the  gossips  were 
angry  at  not  being  able  to  hear  anything  definite  about  the 
matter.  And  what  young  and  beautiful  maiden,  who  is 
also  successful  as  an  artist,  has  not  many  enemies  made  by 
envy?  The  strange  musician  was  little  known  in  the  city. 
He  had  come  to  B.  a  little  less  than  a  year  ago,  and 
lived  very  quietly  in  a  small  upper  room  in  his  hotel.  He 
seemed  to  be  making  a  living  by  giving  singing  lessons 
and  composing  music.  All  those  who  knew  him  seemed 
to  think  that  he  was  just  a  little  crazy.  But  the  few  who 
had  become  his  friends  spoke  of  him  as  being  very  inter- 
esting, and  some  of  them  went  regularly  to  the  Hotel  de 
Portugal  for  supper,  to  be  able  to  listen  to  his  delightful 
conversation  on  musical  subjects.  Boloni  seemed  to  have 
no  relatives  or  no  intimate  friends  here.  People  did  not 
seem  to  suspect  his  relations  with  the  singer  Bianetti. 

Councilor  Bolnau  was  still  ill  in  bed.  He  was  much  de- 
pressed, and  spoke  incessantly  of  things  which  usually  did 

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Wilhelm  Hauff 

not  interest  him  at  all.  He  had  bought  a  collection  of  law 
books  which  he  was  eagerly  studying.  His  wife  said  that 
he  had  read  throughout  the  preceding  night,  and  that  she 
had  heard  him  moaning.  His  study  was  particularly  di- 
rected toward  the  subject  of  the  unjustly  accused,  especially 
such  of  them  as  had  been  executed,  although  quite  innocent. 
He  told  his  friend  the  doctor  that  there  was  much  comfort 
in  the  slowness  of  law  proceedings  in  Germany,  for  if  a 
suit  lasted  ten  years  or  more  it  was  safer  for  those  who 
were  really  innocent,  than  in  places  where  they  arrested  you 
one  day  and  hanged  you  the  next. 

When  the  doctor  finally  reached  the  home  of  the  singer 
Bianetti,  he  found  his  patient  much  depressed  and  very  un- 
happy. Her  wound  appeared  to  be  healing  well,  but  with 
her  growing  physical  health  the  calmness  of  her  soul 
seemed  to  be  vanishing.  "  I  have  been  thinking  over  all 
these  things/'  she  said.  "  Is  it  not  strange,  doctor,  that 
you  should  have  come  into  my  life  in  this  peculiar  way? 
Two  days  ago  I  scarcely  knew  of  your  existence.  And  now 
that  I  am  so  unhappy,  I  have  found  a  kind,  fatherly  friend 
in  you." 

"  Mademoiselle  Bianetti,"  replied  Lange,  "  the  physician 
has  more  to  do  by  the  sick  bed  than  merely  to  feel  the 
pulse,  to  bind  up  wounds  and  to  prescribe  medicines.  Be- 
lieve me,  when  we  sit  alone  by  our  patient,  when  we  hear 
the  inner  pulse,  the  pulse  of  the  soul,  beating  so  uneasily, 
when  we  know  that  there  are  wounds  to  heal  which  cannot 
be  seen — then  the  physician  is  lost  in  the  friend,  and  we  see 
anew  the  wonderful  interrelation  between  body  and  soul." 

"  Yes,  indeed,  that  is  it!  "  said  Giuseppa,  taking  his  hand. 
"  That  is  it,  and  my  soul  also  has  found  its  physician  in  you. 
You  may  have  to  do  much  for  me;  you  may  even  have  to 
appear  in  the  courts  in  my  name.  If  you  are  willing  to 
make  this  great  sacrifice  for  a  poor  girl  who  has  no  one 
else,  then  I  will  tell  you  everything." 

"  You  may  depend  upon  me  for  everything,"  said  the 
kind  old  man,  pressing  her  hand  warmly. 

"  But  think  well  before  you  promise !  The  world  has 
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German  Mystery  Stories 

cast  a  slur  upon  my  reputation;  it  has  accused,  judged, 
and  condemned  me.  Will  it  not  throw  scorn  upon  you 
when  you  take  the  part  of  the  maligned  singer,  of  the 
friendless  foreigner  ?  " 

"  I  am  not  afraid,"  cried  the  doctor  ardently.    "  And  now 
tell  me  your  story." 


VI 

THE  singer  began :  "  My  father  was  Antonio  Bianetti,  a 
celebrated  violinist,  whose  name  you  may  have  heard,  as 
his  travels  led  him  through  many  countries.  I  can  remem- 
ber him  only  from  my  very  earliest  childhood,  when  he 
taught  me  the  scales.  My  mother  was  an  excellent  singer, 
and  accompanied  my  father  on  his  travels,  appearing  with 
him  at  his  concerts.  I  was  four  years  old  when  my  father 
died  on  one  of  his  journeys,  and  left  us  in  great  poverty. 
My  mother  was  obliged  to  support  us  by  her  singing.  A 
year  later  she  married  a  musician  who  had  been  very  flat- 
tering in  his  compliments  and  attentions.  But  she  soon  saw 
that  he  had  married  her  only  to  utilize  her  voice.  He  be- 
came musical  director  in  a  little  city  in  Alsatia,  and  then 
our  sorrows  began. 

"  My  mother  had  three  more  children  and  lost  her  voice 
completely.  This  cut  off  the  better  part  of  my  stepfather's 
income,  for  it  was  my  mother's  singing  which  had  been  the 
main  attraction  at  his  concerts.  He  was  very  cruel  to  her 
after  this,  and  even  refused  me  proper  food  until  he  hit 
upon  a  means  of  making  me  useful.  He  forced  me  to  sing 
many  hours  each  day,  teaching  me  the  most  difficult  music, 
and  he  made  of  me  one  of  those  unfortunate  infant  prodi- 
gies to  whom  nature  has  given  a  beautiful  talent  to  their 
own  misfortune.  My  mother  could  not  endure  the  sight  of 
my  suffering.  She  seemed  to  be  fading  away,  and  we  found 
her  dead  in  bed  one  morning.  What  shall  I  tell  you  of  the 
years  that  followed,  years  of  martyrdom  for  me?  I  was 
but  eleven  years  old,  and  had  to  attend  to  the  housekeeping, 

102 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

to  educate  the  smaller  children,  and  to  learn  the  songs  for 
my  concerts.  It  was  indeed  a  time  of  torture ! 

"  During  these  years  a  strange  gentleman  would  come  to 
visit  us  occasionally,  bringing  with  him  a  bag  full  of  money 
for  my  father.  Even  now  I  shiver  when  I  think  of  him. 
He  was  a  tall  gaunt  man  of  about  middle  age.  The  piercing 
glance  of  his  small  gray  eyes  cannot  be  forgotten  by  anyone 
who  has  seen  him.  He  seemed  to  be  particularly  fond  of 
me.  He  praised  my  size,  my  face,  my  figure,  and  my  sing- 
ing. In  spite  of  my  protests  he  would  take  me  on  his  knee 
and  kiss  me,  with  the  words :  '  Two  or  three  years  more, 
and  you  will  be  ready,  little  one ! '  and  then  he  and  my 
stepfather  would  burst  into  a  wild,  coarse  laugh.  On  my 
fifteenth  birthday  my  stepfather  said  to  me :  '  Listen,  Giu- 
seppa!  You  have  nothing,  you  are  nothing,  and  you  need 
expect  nothing  from  me.  I  have  enough  to  do  to  care  for 
my  own  three.  Little  Christel  can  now  take  your  place  as 
infant  prodigy.  All  you  have — your  singing — you  have  me 
to  thank  for,  and  that  must  help  you  to  get  along  in  the 
world.  But  your  uncle  in  Paris  has  promised  to  take  you 
into  his  house/  '  My  uncle  in  Paris  ? '  I  cried  in  aston- 
ishment, for  I  had  never  heard  of  any  such  person.  '  Yes, 
your  uncle  in  Paris.  He  may  be  here  any  day/ 

"  You  can  perhaps  imagine  how  delighted  I  was  at  this. 
It  is  now  three  years  ago,  but  I  can  still  remember  the  hap- 
piness of  those  hours  as  clearly  as  if  it  were  but  yesterday.. 
It  was  almost  too  much  happiness  to  think  of  the  chance 
of  escape  from  my  stepfather's  house,  to  think  of  an  uncle 
kind  enough  to  take  pity  on  me,  and  also  to  think  of  going 
to  Paris,  which  had  always  seemed  to  me  the  home  of 
brightness  and  pleasure.  Finally,  one  evening,  a  carriage 
stopped  at  our  door.  *  That  is  your  uncle/  said  my  father. 
I  ran  downstairs,  threw  open  the  door — what  a  terrible  dis- 
appointment awaited  me!  It  was  the  man  with  the  bags 
of  money. 

"  I  was  almost  unconscious  from  fright  and  disappoint- 
ment, but  I  cannot  forget  the  ghastly  joy  that  shone  out 
of  his  gray  eyes  when  he  saw  how  tall  I  had  grown.  I 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

can  still  hear  his  hoarse  voice  in  my  ears : '  Ah.  now  you  are 
ready,  my  dear!  Now  I  can  introduce  you  into  the  great 
world/  He  took  me  by  the  hand,  and  threw  the  bag  which 
he  carried  on  the  table.  A  shower  of  gold  and  silver  pieces 
rolled  out  of  it,  and  my  father  cried  aloud  with  joy,  while 
the  smaller  children  crawled  about  picking  up  the  money 
that  had  fallen  to  the  floor.  It  was  the  price  of  my  body 
and  soul! 

"  The  following  day  we  set  out  for  Paris.  The  gaunt 
man  (I  could  not  bring  myself  to  call  him  uncle)  talked  to 
me  incessantly  of  the  brilliant  part  I  should  play  in  his 
salons.  I  could  not  feel  any  pleasure  in  it;  a  strange  fear 
had  taken  the  place  of  all  my  joy  and  happiness.  We 
reached  Paris  at  last,  and  our  carriage  stopped  before  a 
large  brilliantly  lighted  house.  Ten  or  twelve  very  pretty 
girls  danced  down  the  broad  staircase  to  meet  us.  They  em- 
braced and  kissed  me,  and  called  me  their  sister  Giuseppa. 
I  asked  the  man, '  Are  these  all  your  daughters,  sir  ?  '  '  Yes, 
they  are  all  my  good  children/  he  answered,  laughing,  and 
the  girls  and  the  many  servants  standing  about  also  laughed 
loudly. 

"  The  magnificent  apartments  and  the  beautiful  garments 
that  were  given  me  distracted  my  troubled  mind  a  little. 
The  following  evening  I  was  most  beautifully  dressed  and 
led  into  the  drawing-room.  The  twelve  girls,  also  mag- 
nificently attired,  sat  about  at  card  tables  and  on  sofas. 
They  were  carrying  on  a  lively  conversation  with  a  num- 
ber of  gentlemen  of  varying  ages.  When  I  appeared  they 
all  stopped  talking  and  looked  at  me.  The  owner  of  the 
house  led  me  to  the  piano  and  told  me  to  sing.  When  I 
had  finished  they  all  applauded  enthusiastically.  Some  of 
them  began  to  talk  to  me,  and  appeared  much  entertained 
by  my  awkward  French,  which  was  half  Italian.  They 
paid  me  many  compliments,  and  I  blush  now  to  think  of 
some  of  the  words  they  said.  My  life  went  on  thus  for 
several  days  very  pleasantly.  No  one  troubled  me,  I  could 
do  as  I  chose,  I  had  everything  I  wished  for,  and  I  might 
have  been  quite  content  had  I  not  felt  that  strange  fear  of 

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WilMm  Hauff 

this  house  and  of  these  people.  I  would  try  to  explain  it 
by  my  own  ignorance,  saying  to  myself  that  this  was  the 
great  world,  and  that  I  should  learn  to  grow  accustomed 
to  its  ways. 

"  And  now,  dear  doctor,  look  at  this  insignificant  little 
bit  of  paper.  To  it  I  owe  my  rescue.  I  found  it  one  morn- 
ing on  my  breakfast  tray,  hidden  beneath  a  roll.  I  do  not 
know  what  kind  hand  laid  it  there,  but  may  heaven  for- 
ever bless  the  writer  of  it,  who  had  taken  pity  on  me  before 
it  was  too  late !  In  the  letter  were  the  words : 


'"MADEMOISELLE 

1 ' '  This  house  in  which  you  live  has  the  worst  possible  reputation. 
The  women  who  surround  you  are  unfit  companions  for  any  good 
girl.  Should  we  have  been  mistaken  in  believing  Giuseppa  innocent 
of  this  knowledge?  Is  she  willing  to  purchase  a  short  time  of 
pleasure  with  many  years  of  repentance  ? ' 

"  It  was  terrible  news,  for  it  suddenly,  almost  too  sud- 
denly, tore  aside  the  happy  veil  of  childish  innocence  that 
had  rested  over  my  soul — and  it  destroyed  all  my  hopes 
for  the  future.  What  was  I  to  do?  I  was  still  too  young 
to  have  learned  to  make  important  decisions  for  myself. 
The  man  to  whom  this  house  belonged  appeared  to  me 
like  an  evil  magician  who  was  able  to  read  all  my  thoughts, 
who  might  indeed  already  know  that  I  had  learned  the* 
truth.  And  yet  I  would  rather  have  died  than  stay  a  mo- 
ment longer  in  that  house.  I  had  heard  a  girl  in  the  house 
opposite  ours  speaking  Italian  now  and  then.  I  did  not 
know  her — but  did  I  know  anyone  else  in  this  great  city? 
The  sounds  of  my  own  language  awoke  confidence  in  me! 
I  would  flee  to  her  and  on  my  knees  I  would  implore  her 
to  save  me. 

"  It  was  but  seven  o'clock  in  the  morning.  Following 
the  habits  of  my  childhood  I  was  accustomed  to  rise  early, 
and  it  was  this  that  saved  me.  At  such  an  hour  everyone 
in  the  house,  even  to  the  majority  of  the  servants,  was  still 
asleep.  Only  the  concierge  might  possibly  see  me,  but 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

he  was  not  likely  to  imagine  that  anyone  could  wish  to 
escape.  I  dared  the  attempt.  Throwing  a  plain  dark  cloak 
about  me,  I  hurried  down  the  stairs  and  slipped  past  the 
man  at  the  door  without  his  noticing  me.  Three  steps 
more  and  I  was  free. 

"  Across  the  street  to  the  right  lived  the  Italian  girl. 
I  sprang  across  the  roadway  and  knocked  at  the  door. 
When  the  servant  opened  it  I  asked  for  the  signora  with 
the  dark  curls,  who  could  speak  Italian.  The  man  laughed 
and  said  I  probably  meant  her  excellency,  the  young 
Countess  Seraphina.  '  Yes,  yes/  I  exclaimed,  '  please  lead 
me  to  her  quickly ! '  He  seemed  to  hesitate  at  first  for 
it  was  still  so  early,  but  my  entreaties  won  him  over.  He 
led  me  up  to  a  room  in  the  second  story,  told  me  to  wait 
there  and  called  a  serving  maid  whom  he  told  to  announce 
me  to  her  excellency.  I  had  thought  that  the  pretty  Italian 
girl  was  some  one  of  my  own  class  in  life;  I  felt  almost 
ashamed  to  have  to  tell  my  story  to  a  young  lady  of  such 
position.  But  I  had  no  time  for  hesitation;  the  maid  re- 
turned in  a  moment  to  lead  me  to  the  bed  of  her  young 
mistress.  It  was  indeed  the  beautiful  young  lady  whom 
I  had  heard  speaking  Italian.  I  fell  on  my  knees  before 
her  and  implored  her  protection.  When  she  had  heard 
my  story  she  was  much  moved,  and  promised  to  save  me. 
She  sent  for  the  man  who  had  let  me  into  the  house,  and 
commanded  him  to  say  nothing  to  anyone  about  my  being 
there.  She  told  them  to  give  me  a  little  room,  the  win- 
dows of  which  opened  on  to  the  court.  She  had  my  food 
sent  to  me  there,  gave  me  some  sewing  to  occupy  my 
mind,  and  I  lived  there  for  several  days,  full  of  joy  over 
my  rescue  mingled  with  anxiety  for  my  future. 

"  The  house  to  which  I  had  fled  was  the  home  of  the 
ambassador  of  a  small  German  court.  Her  excellency  was 
his  niece,  a  young  Italian  countess,  who  was  completing 
her  education  in  Paris.  She  was  a  most  kind  and  amiable 
creature,  whose  benevolence  to  me  I  shall  never  forget. 
She  came  to  see  me  every  day  and  tried  to  comfort  me. 
She  told  me  that  her  uncle  had  sent  his  servants  on  a 

106 


Wilhclm  Hauff 

secret  investigation  of  the  house  opposite.  The  occupants 
of  it  were  in  great  alarm  at  my  disappearance,  but  they 
were  anxious  that  no  word  of  it  should  be  spread  abroad. 
The  servants  whispered  among  themselves  that  one  of 
the  young  ladies  had  thrown  herself  from  a  window  of  the 
second  story  into  the  canal.  It  happened  that  my  room 
had  been  on  a  corner,  one  window  looking  out  upon  the 
street,  the  other  down  on  to  the  canal  which  flowed  past 
the  house.  I  remember  to  have  opened  the  window  on 
that  side  the  morning  of  my  escape;  it  had  probably  re- 
mained open,  and  in  this  way  my  disappearance  was 
apparently  explained.  Signora  Seraphina  was  just  about 
to  return  to  Italy,  and  she  was  kind  enough  to  take 
me  with  her.  She  did  even  more  than  this:  she  per- 
suaded her  parents  to  take  me  into  their  home  in  Pia- 
cenza.  She  engaged  masters  to  perfect  my  talent.  I  have 
to  thank  her  for  my  art,  for  my  freedom,  for  my  life  itself, 
perhaps. 

"  It  was  in  Piacenza  that  I  became  acquainted  with  the 
musical  director,  Carlo  Boloni.  In  spite  of  his  name,  how- 
ever, he  is  not  an  Italian.  He  seemed  to  love  me,  but 
he  did  not  declare  himself  to  me  there.  Soon  after  making 
his  acquaintance  I  accepted  the  engagement  at  this  theater. 
People  have  been  kind  to  me  here;  the  public  has  seemed 
to  admire  me.  My  manner  of  life  and  my  reputation  have 
been  unspotted  by  any  calumny.  In  all  these  months  no 
man  has  ever  visited  me  except — I  can  confess  our  beau- 
tiful relations  to  you  without  a  blush — except  Boloni,  who 
soon  followed  me  here.  Now  you  have  heard  my  story. 
Tell  me  candidly,  do  you  think  that  I  have  done  anything 
to  deserve  such  bitter  punishment?  How  have  I  sinned 
that  this  terrible  thing  should  happen  to  me?  " 

When  the  singer  had  finished  talking,  the  physician  took 
her  hand  and  pressed  it  warmly.  "  I  am  very  happy,"  he 
said,  "  to  join  the  little  company  of  those  who  have  been 
good  to  you.  It  is  not  much  that  I  can  do,  it  is  out  of 
my  power  to  help  you  to  the  extent  that  the  kind  young 
countess  has  done,  but  I  will  try  to  do  what  can  be  done 

107 


German  Mystery  Stories 

to  clear  up  the  matter  here;  and  I  will  also  endeavor  to 
bring  about  a  reconciliation  with  your  hot-tempered  friend. 
But  tell  me,  what  nationality  is  this  Signer  Boloni?" 

"  Now  you  are  asking  me  too  much,"  she  answered 
evasively.  "  All  I  know  is  that  he  is  of  German  birth,  and 
I  have  understood  that  he  left  his  home  because  of  a 
family  quarrel.  He  has  been  in  England  and  in  Italy,  and 
has  been  here  less  than  a  year." 

"  But  why  haven't  you  told  him  the  story  you  have  told 
me  just  now?" 

Giuseppa  blushed  at  the  question.  She  looked  down  as 
she  answered :  "  You  are  my  physician,  my  fatherly  friend. 
When  I  speak  to  you  I  feel  as  a  child  might  feel  when  con- 
fiding in  its  father.  But  how  could  I  speak  to  a  young 
man  about  such  things?  I  know  his  jealous  temperament, 
his  easily  excited  nature.  I  would  never  dare  to  tell  him 
of  this  terrible  snare  that  I  have  escaped." 

"  I  honor  and  admire  your  feelings,  my  dear  child.  Be- 
lieve me,  it  does  an  old  man  good  to  find  such  delicacy  of 
scruple  in  these  days,  when  it  seems  to  be  considered  good 
form  to  forget  all  scruple.  But  you  have  not  told  me 
all.  That  evening  at  the  ball,  that  terrible  night?  " 

"  It  is  true,  I  have  still  more  to  tell  you.  Whenever 
I  thought  back  over  my  rescue,  I  would  send  up  silent 
thanks  to  Heaven  that  my  good  fortune  had  led  me  to  such 
kind  people.  And  also  did  I  praise  Heaven  that,  in  that 
terrible  house  from  which  I  had  escaped,  they  believed 
me  to  be  dead.  For  I  knew  that  if  that  dreadful  man 
had  any  suspicion  that  I  was  still  alive,  he  would  come 
to  drag  back  his  victim,  or  to  kill  her.  For  he  had  doubt- 
less given  my  father  much  money  for  me.  Therefore,  as 
long  as  I  was  in  Piacenza  I  would  not  accept  any  of  the 
many  favorable  offers  I  received  to  make  a  public  appear- 
ance. But  one  day,  when  I  had  been  there  about  a  year 
and  a  half,  Countess  Seraphina  showed  me  a  Paris  news- 
paper in  which  I  read  the  announcement  of  the  death  of 
the  Chevalier  de  Planto." 

"Chevalier  de  Planto?"  interrupted  the  physician. 
108 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

"  Was  that  the  name  of  the  man  who  took  you  from  your 
stepfather's  house?" 

"  Yes,  that  was  what  he  was  called.  This  news  from 
Paris  made  me  very  happy  and  took  away  the  last  obstacle 
to  a  public  appearance,  and  to  the  possibility  of  my  no 
longer  being  a  burden  to  my  benefactors.  A  few  weeks 
later  I  came  here  to  B.  Two  days  ago,  as  you  know,  I 
went  to  the  ball,  and  I  will  confess  to  you  that  I  was  in 
a  very  happy  mood.  I  had  not  told  Boloni  what  costume 
I  was  to  wear.  I  wished  to  tease  him  and  then  surprise 
him.  But  suddenly,  as  I  chanced  to  be  standing  alone, 
a  voice  whispered  in  my  ear,  '  Seppa,  how  is  your  uncle?' 
It  was  like  a  clap  of  thunder.  I  had  not  heard  that  name 
since  the  day  I  had  escaped  from  that  terrible  man.  '  My 
uncle?'  I  had  no  uncle,  and  there  was  but  one  who  had 
passed  for  my  uncle  in  the  eyes  of  the  world,  the  Chevalier 
de  Planto.  I  could  scarcely  control  myself  sufficiently 
to  reply,  '  You  must  be  mistaken/  I  attempted  to  hurry 
away  and  hide  myself  in  the  crowd,  but  the  stranger  pushed 
his  arm  through  mine  and  held  me  fast.  '  Seppa,'  he  whis- 
pered, '  I  warn  you  that  you  had  better  walk  quietly  along 
with  me,  or  else  I  will  tell  all  these  good  people  of  the 
company  you  once  kept.'  I  was  crushed,  everything  looked 
black  before  my  eyes — I  seemed  to  have  but  one  thought, 
a  terrible  fear  of  shame.  What  could  a  poor  helpless  girl 
do,  when  this  stranger,  whoever  he  might  be,  could  tell' 
the  world  such  things  of  me  ?  It  would  have  been  only  too 
readily  believed,  and  Carlo,  alas!  would  not  have  been  the 
last  to  accept  it  as  true  and  to  condemn  me.  Helplessly  I 
followed  the  man  at  my  side.  He  whispered  dreadful 
things  to  me.  He  told  me  that  I  had  rendered  my  uncle, 
my  stepfather,  most  unhappy,  that  I  had  ruined  my  entire 
family.  When  I  could  endure  it  no  longer  I  tore  myself 
away  and  called  for  my  carriage.  But  as  I  looked  back 
once  more  on  the  staircase  the  dreadful  stranger  was  be- 
hind me.  '  I  will  drive  home  with  you,  Seppa/  he  said 
with  a  hoarse  laugh.  '  I  have  a  few  words  more  to  say 
to  you/  I  must  have  fainted,  for  I  remember  nothing  very 

109 


German  Mystery  Stories 

clearly  until  the  carriage  stopped  before  this  house.  I 
entered  my  room ;  he  followed  me  and  began  to  talk  to  me 
at  once.  In  deadly  terror  that  he  would  betray  me,  I  told 
Babette  to  leave  the  room.  '  What  do  you  want  of  me, 
wretch?'  I  cried  in  anger.  'What  evil  can  you  say  of 
me?  It  was  without  my  own  consent  that  I  entered  that 
house,  and  I  left  it  as  soon  as  I  saw  what  I  had  to  expect 
there/ 

"  '  Do  not  make  a  scene,  Seppa.  There  are  but  two  ways 
to  save  yourself.  Either  you  pay  me  ten  thousand  francs 
at  once,  in  jewels  or  in  gold,  or  you  follow  me  to  Paris. 
You  must  do  one  of  these  things,  or  the  whole  city  will 
know  more  about  you  than  you  would  like.'  I  was  beside 
myself  with  rage  and  horror.  '  Who  gives  you  the  right 
to  make  such  demands  of  me?'  I  cried.  'Tell  them  if 
you  must,  but  leave  my  house  this  instant  or  I  will  call 
the  neighbors ! ' 

"  I  made  several  steps  toward  the  window,  but  he  fol- 
lowed me  and  caught  my  arm.  '  Who  gives  me  the  right? ' 
he  repeated.  '  Your  father,  my  dear,  your  father.'  A  hor- 
rible laugh  burst  from  his  lips,  the  light  of  the  candles 
fell  upon  a  pair  of  piercing  gray  eyes,  and  I  knew  who  it 
was  that  I  saw  before  me.  I  knew  that  his  death  had 
been  only  a  pretense,  a  lie  spread  abroad  for  some  evil 
purpose.  Despair  gave  me  strength.  I  tore  myself  from 
his  hold  and  endeavored  to  snatch  off  his  mask.  '  I  know 
you,  Chevalier  de  Planto ! '  I  cried,  '  and  you  must  answer 
before  the  Court  of  Justice  for  your  treatment  of  me ! ' 
'  Not  too  fast,  my  darling/  he  said,  and  as  he  spoke  I  felt 
the  steel  in  my  heart — I  believed  myself  dying." 

The  doctor  shivered.  It  was  a  bright  day,  and  yet  he 
felt  the  shudder  one  experiences  when  speaking  of  ghosts 
in  the  dark.  It  seemed  to  him  that  he  could  hear  the 
hoarse  laugh  of  this  Satan,  that  he  could  see  the  monster's 
piercing  gray  eyes  behind  the  curtains  of  the  bed.  "  Then 
you  believe,"  he  said  after  a  few  moments,  "  that  the 
chevalier  is  not  dead,  and  that  it  is  he  who  attempted  to 
murder  you?" 

no 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

"  His  voice,  his  eyes,  tell  me  that  it  was  he.  The  hand- 
kerchief I  gave  you  yesterday  makes  it  quite  certain.  It 
had  his  initials  in  the  corner." 

"  And  will  you  give  me  authority  to  act  for  you  ?  May 
I  tell  in  court  what  you  have  told  me  now?" 

"  I  have  no  other  choice;  you  may  tell  everything.  But 
first,  dear  doctor,  please  go  to  Boloni  and  tell  him  what 
I  have  told  you.  He  will  believe  you;  he  knows  Countess 
Seraphina  also." 

"  And  may  I  not  also  know,"  continued  the  physician, 
"  the  name  of  the  ambassador  in  whose  house  you  were 
hidden?  " 

"Why  not?  it  was  Baron  Martinow." 

"Baron  Martinow?"  cried  Lange  in  pleasant  excite- 
ment. "  He  who  was  in  the  diplomatic  service  of  Prince 
X ?" 

"  You  know  him?  He  was  the  ambassador  of  the 
prince's  court  in  Paris,  and  later  in  St.  Petersburg." 

"  Oh,  that  is  very  good,  very  good !  "  said  the  physician, 
rubbing  his  hands  joyfully.  "  I  know  him,  and  he  is  in 
this  very  town,  having  arrived  yesterday.  He  sent  for 
me  this  morning;  he  has  taken  rooms  in  the  Hotel  de 
Portugal/' 

A  tear  shone  in  the  singer's  eyes,  and  she  appeared 
much  moved.  "  What  a  happy  chance ! "  she  exclaimed. 
"  I  had  imagined  him  many  hundred  miles  away,  and  now 
he  is  here;  and  he  can  bear  witness  to  the  truth  of  my 
story.  Oh,  hurry  to  him — and  oh!  if  Carlo  could  only 
be  with  you  when  he  assures  you  that  I  have  told  the 
truth!" 

"  He  shall  be  with  me.  I  will  drag  him  there,  depend 
upon  me.  And  now,  my  dear  child,  farewell  for  to-day. 
You  may  be  quite  calm,  fate  will  be  kind  to  you  once  more, 
I  know.  And  be  sure  that  you  take  the  medicine  I  left  for 
you,  two  spoonfuls  every  hour." 

The  doctor  left  the  room,  looking  back  to  receive  an- 
other grateful  glance  from  his  patient.  She  seemed  calm 
and  happy.  It  was  as  if  the  narration  of  her  story  had 

in 


German  Mystery  Stories 

lifted  a  heavy  weight  from  her  soul.  She  looked  with  con- 
fidence to  the  future,  for  a  more  fortunate  fate  seemed 
dawning  for  her. 

VII 

BARON  MARTINOW,  for  whom  Dr.  Lange  had  done  an 
important  service  some  years  before,  welcomed  him  gladly 
and  told  him  all  he  wished  to  know  about  the  singer  Bian- 
etti.  The  baron  not  only  corroborated  the  truth  of  her 
story,  but  he  was  enthusiastic  in  his  praise  of  her  charac- 
ter. He  promised  to  talk  about  her  in  this  way  to  everyone 
whom  he  should  meet  in  the  city,  and  to  refute  the  rumors 
that  were  in  circulation.  He  kept  his  promise,  and  his  high 
position,  and  his  open  praise  of  the  Italian  singer  caused 
a  complete  reversion  of  opinion  in  her  favor  within  a  few 
days.  But  Dr.  Lange,  when  he  had  finished  his  visit  to  the 
ambassador,  mounted  a  few  stories  higher  in  the  hotel  to 
No.  54,  the  room  where  the  musician  lived.  He  stood 
before  the  door  for  an  instant  to  get  his  breath,  for  the 
steep  stairs  had  fatigued  him.  Then  he  listened,  for  he 
heard  strange  sounds  behind  the  door.  There  seemed 
to  be  some  one  seriously  ill  within  the  room;  he  heard 
sighs  and  deep  groans,  mingled  with  dreadful  French  and 
Italian  curses,  and  now  and  then  a  hoarse,  despairing 
laugh.  The  physician  shuddered.  He  remembered  that  the 
musician's  excitability  of  the  day  before  had  seemed  to 
him  almost  like  insanity.  Could  he  have  gone  altogether 
mad  through  sorrow?  Dr.  Lange's  hand  was  already  raised 
to  knock  at  the  door  when  he  noticed  that  it  was  No.  53, 
and  he  recognized  with  relief  that  he  had  made  a  mistake. 
When  he  stopped  before  No.  54,  he  heard  sounds  of  a 
different  character.  A  man's  voice,  rich  and  sweet,  was 
singing  to  the  accompaniment  of  a  piano.  The  doctor  en^ 
tered  and  found  the  young  man  he  had  seen  in  the  singer's 
house  the  day  before. 

Guitars,  violins,  loose  strings,  and  sheets  of  music  lay 
scattered  about  the  room.  In  the  midst  of  it  all  stood  the 

112 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

musician  in  a  loose  black  dressing-gown,  a  red  cap  on  his 
head,  and  a  roll  of  music  in  his  hands.  Dr.  Lange  said 
later  that  all  he  could  think  of  was  Marius  amid  the  ruins, 
of  Carthage. 

The  young  man  seemed  to  remember  him,  arid  his  wel- 
come was  a  gloomy  one.  But  he  was  polite  enough  to 
push  a  pile  of  music  from  a  chair,  which  he  then  offered 
to  his  visitor.  He  himself  walked  about  the  room  with 
long  steps,  the  flying  tails  of  his  dressing-gown  taking 
the  dust  neatly  off  the  tables  and  books. 

He  did  not  give  the  visitor  time  to  say  a  word,  but  began 
at  once:  "  You  come  from  her?  Aren't  you  ashamed,  with 
your  gray  hairs,  to  be  the  messenger  of  a  woman  like 
that?  I  will  hear  nothing  more  of  her.  I  have  buried  my 
happiness,  I  am  mourning  for  my  dead  love.  You  see 
I  am  wearing  my  black  dressing-gown.  If  you  have  any 
understanding  of  the  workings  of  the  soul,  this  should 
prove  to  you  that  that  woman  is  dead  for  me.  Oh,  Giu- 
seppa!" 

"  Honored  sir,"  interrupted  the  doctor,  "  if  you  will  but 
hear  me " 

"Hear?  What  do  you  know  about  hearing?  Let  me 
try  your  ear,  old  man!  Listen  now,  this  is  Woman,"  he 
continued,  throwing  open  the  top  of  the  piano  and  playing 
something  which  seemed  to  the  physician,  who  had  no 
great  knowledge  of  music,  to  be  very  much  like  other 
tunes  he  had  heard.  "  Do  you  hear  how  soft  this  is,  how 
melting,  how  clinging?  But  do  you  not  notice  also  in 
these  intervals  the  unreliable,  fickle  character  of  these  crea- 
tures? But  now  listen — "  He  raised  his  voice  and  his  eyes 
shone  as  he  threw  back  the  wide  sleeves  of  his  mourning 
garment — "Where  men  are  gathered,  there  is  power  and 
truth !  Here  there  is  nothing  impure,  here  are  truly  noble 
and  beautiful  tones !  "  He  pounded  about  on  the  keys  with 
great  energy,  but  it  seemed  to  the  doctor  that  this  also  was 
like  most  other  music  he  had  heard. 

"  You  have  rather  a  peculiar  manner  of  characterizing 
people,"  said  the  doctor.  "  As  we  are  in  the  business,  might 


German  Mystery  Stories 

I  ask  you  to  show  me  what  a  court  physician  would  sound 
like  on  a  piano?" 

The  musician  looked  at  him  with  scorn.  "  How  dare 
you,  earthworm,  interrupt  my  brilliant  and  magnificent 
harmonies  with  your  squeaky  C  sharp?" 

The  physician's  answer  was  interrupted  by  a  knocking 
at  the  door.  A  crooked  little  man  entered,  bowed  deeply 
and  said :  "  The  sick  gentleman  in  No.  53  begs  the  hon- 
ored director  not  to  make  so  much  noise,  for  he  is  very 
weak  and  probably  very  near  his  passing  away  from  this 
earth." 

"  I  send  my  most  obedient  respects  to  the  gentleman," 
replied  the  young  man.  "  As  far  as  I  am  concerned  he  may 
pass  away  from  this  earth  as  soon  as  he  chooses.  He  keeps 
me  awake  all  night  with  his  moaning  and  his  groaning, 
and  he  makes  me  shiver  with  his  godless  curses  and  his 
horrible  laugh.  Does  this  Frenchman  imagine  that  he 
owns  the  hotel?  If  I  disturb  him,  so  he  disturbs  me  also." 

"  But  your  honor  will  forgive  me,"  said  the  little  man. 
"  He'll  not  last  much  longer,  you  wouldn't  disturb  his  last 
moments " 

"  Is  the  gentleman  so  ill?  "  asked  the  physician  in  sym- 
pathy. "  What  is  the  matter  with  him?  Who  is  taking 
care  of  him?  And  who  is  he?" 

"  I  do  not  know  who  he  is,  for  I  am  hired  to  care  for 
him  in  the  hotel  by  the  day.  I  think  he  calls  himself  Lorier, 
and  comes  from  France.  He  was  all  right  day  before  yes- 
terday, only  a  little  melancholy.  He  did  not  go  out  at  all, 
and  did  not  seem  to  want  to  see  the  sights  of  the  city.  But 
then  I  found  him  very  ill  in  bed  one  morning,  and  he  said 
that  he  had  had  an  apoplectic  stroke  during  the  night.  But 
he  won't  let  me  bring  him  a  physician,  and  he  curses  me 
when  I  say  I  will  fetch  one.  He  takes  care  of  himself,  and 
bandages  himself.  I  think  he  has  some  old  wound  from 
the  war,  which  has  opened  again." 

Just  then  they  heard  the  hoarse  voice  of  the  sick  man 
next  door  calling  amid  curses.  The  little  lackey  crossed 
himself  and  hurried  away. 

114 


Wilhclm  Hauff 

The  doctor  began  again  at  his  task  of  bringing  the  stub- 
born lover  to  reason,  and  this  time  with  more  success.  The 
musician  had  taken  up  an  opera  score,  and  was  gently  hum- 
ming portions  of  it.  The  physician  took  advantage  of  this 
quieter  mood,  and  began  to  tell  the  story  the  singer  had 
told  him  yesterday.  His  host  did  not  seem  to  pay  any 
attention  to  him  at  first.  He  read  his  score  as  absorbedly 
as  if  he  were  alone  in  his  room.  But  gradually  he  began 
to  take  notice,  and  now  and  then  stopped  singing.  He 
would  then  raise  his  eye  from  his  book  and  glance  at  his 
visitor.  Finally,  he  dropped  the  score  altogether  and  gazed 
at  the  speaker.  His  eyes  shone,  he  moved  nearer,  and 
snatched  at  the  arm  of  the  doctor.  When  the  latter  had 
finished  his  narrative,  the  young  musician  sprang  up  and 
ran  excitedly  about  the  room.  "  Yes,"  he  exclaimed,  "  it 
sounds  like  truth ;  there  is  a  gleam  of  truth  in  it — it  may 
possibly  be  as  you  say.  But,  by  Satan!  might  it  not  also 
be  all  a  lie?" 

"  Why  such  sudden  decrescendo,  honored  artist  ?  Why 
jump  from  truth  to  lies  at  one  leap?  And  if  I  bring  you 
a  witness  for  the  truth — what  then,  my  maestro  ?  " 

Boloni  stood  before  him  looking  down  at  him.  "  Ah,  if 
you  could  do  this!  I  would  frame  you  in  gold!  This 
thought  alone  demands  a  royal  reward.  Ah!  if  we  could 
find  a  witness — but  it  is  all  so  black  around  me — a  tangled 
labyrinth — no  escape — no  guiding  star " 

"  Most  honored  friend,"  interrupted  the  doctor,  "  that 
sounds  to  me  very  much  like  some  lines  from  Schiller's 
'  Robbers/  But  in  spite  of  it  I  do  know  such  a  witness, 
such  a  guiding  star." 

"  Ah !  bring  him  to  me !  "  cried  the  other.  "  He  shall  be 
my  friend,  my  angel,  my  God — I  will  worship  him !  " 

"  Now  you  are  leaving  out  something.  I  seem  to  re- 
member some  words  about  a  burning  sword  there.  But  I 
can  convince  you  of  my  good  will.  The  ambassador  who 
received  poor  Giuseppa  into  his  house  happens  by  a  lucky 
chance  to  be  in  this  hotel  occupying  the  first-floor  suite.  If 
you  will  condescend  to  put  on  a  coat  and  a  cravat,  I  will 


German  Mystery  Stories 

lead  you  to  him.     He  has  promised  to  give  you  all  the 
assurance  you  need." 

The  young  man  pressed  the  doctor's  hand  warmly.  But 
even  then  he  could  not  resist  a  certain  theatrical  pathos. 
"  You  are  my  good  angel,"  he  said  with  much  expression. 
"  I  owe  you  inexpressible  thanks !  I  will  slip  into  my  coat 
and  follow  you  at  once  to  the  ambassador's  rooms." 


VIII 

THE  reconciliation  with  her  lover  seemed  to  have  a  more 
beneficial  effect  upon  the  singer  than  did  her  medicines. 
She  recovered  quickly  in  the  next  few  days,  and  was  soon 
well  enough  to  leave  her  bed,  and  to  receive  her  sympathiz- 
ing friends  in  her  boudoir. 

The  chief  of  police  had  been  waiting  for  this  improve- 
ment in  her  condition  to  take  up  the  case  officially.  He 
was  a  cautious  and  capable  man,  and  rumor  said  that  it 
was  not  easy  for  the  criminal  to  escape  upon  whom  his  eye 
had  once  fallen.  Dr.  Lange  had  told  him  the  singer's  his- 
tory, and  he  had  received  still  further  information  from 
Baron  Martinow.  The  ambassador  told  him  that  he  had 
caused  the  authorities  to  investigate  the  life  and  the  busi- 
ness dealings  of  the  Chevalier  de  Planto.  He  had  not 
neglected  to  emphasize  the  fact  that  the  poor  child'  had 
been  actually  sold.  Shortly  after  Giuseppa  had  left  Paris  the 
house  from  which  she  had  fled  had  been  closed  by  the  po- 
lice, and  the  baron  attributed  this  action  to  the  information 
he  had  given.  He  also  had  heard  of  the  chevalier's  death, 
but  believed,  as  did  the  police  chief,  that  it  was  only  a  blind 
by  means  of  which  he  might  the  more  easily  continue  his 
nefarious  business.  For  both  men  had  no  doubt  that  it  was 
this  man  who  had  attempted  to  murder  the  singer.  But  it 
would  be  very  difficult  to  follow  the  trace  of  this  murderer. 
All  the  strangers  who  had  been  in  B.  at  the  time  were  quite 
above  suspicion.  However,  they  had  the  handkerchief  which 
had  been  found  in  Signora  Bianetti's  room,  and  the  descrip- 

116 


Wilhelm  Banff 

tion  of  it  had  been  given  to  all  seamstresses  and  all  laun- 
dresses who  had  the  care  of  the  garments  of  strangers  in 
the  city.  And  the  chief  of  police  believed  that  it  was  very 
likely  the  murderer  would  make  a  second  attempt  upon  the 
life  of  his  victim,  and  that  he  was  probably  hiding  some- 
where in  the  vicinity. 

As  soon  as  the  patient  had  begun  to  recover,  the  chief 
of  police  visited  her  in  company  with  Dr.  Lange.  The  three 
discussed  the  steps  to  be  taken,  but  none  seemed  to  them 
quite  hopeful  of  results.  Giuseppa  herself  finally  made  a 
suggestion  which  pleased  both  men  very  much.  "  My  dear 
doctor,"  she  said,  "  has  permitted  me  to  go  out  next  week. 
If  he  does  not  think  it  will  harm  me,  I  might  attend  the  last 
ball  of  the  carnival  as  my  first  appearance  in  public  again. 
It  would  interest  me  to  show  myself  for  the  first  time  in 
the  place  where  my  misfortunes  began.  We  will  take  care 
that  it  is  known  throughout  the  city  that  I  am  to  attend 
the  ball.  If  the  chevalier  is  still  here,  I  am  firmly  convinced 
that  he  will  attempt  to  approach  me  in  some  disguise.  He 
will  be  careful  not  to  speak  to  me,  or  to  betray  himself  in 
any  way.  But  I  know  that  he  will  not  give  over  his  at- 
tempt upon  my  life,  and  I  would  know  him  among  a  thou- 
sand. His  height,  his  figure,  and,  above  all,  his  eyes,  would 
make  him  known  to  me.  What  do  you  think  of  this,  gen- 
tlemen?" 

"  The  plan  is  not  a  bad  one,"  said  the  chief  of  police.' 
"  I  am  willing  to  wager  that  when  he  hears  you  are  to  be 
at  the  ball,  he  will  appear  there  himself,  if  only  to  see  you 
again  and  to  give  his  anger  fresh  nourishment.  I  would 
recommend  that  you  do  not  wear  a  mask.  That  will  en- 
able him  to  recognize  you  the  more  quickly,  and  the  sooner 
to  fall  into  our  trap.  I  will  dress  a  couple  of  my  strongest 
men  in  dominos,  and  they  shall  remain  near  you  the  entire 
evening.  At  a  sign  from  you  they  will  arrest  the  old  fox." 

Babette,  the  signora's  maid,  had  been  in  the  room  during 
this  conversation.  When  she  heard  that  her  lady  was  mak- 
ing plans  to  discover  the  murderer  or  his  accomplices,  she 
believed  it  to  be  her  duty  to  help  as  much  as  she  could. 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

She  waited  for  the  chief  of  police  as  he  was  leaving  the 
house,  and  told  him  that  she  had  confided  a  circumstance  to 
Dr.  Lange,  to  which  he  did  not  seem  to  attach  much  im- 
portance, although  it  seemed  worthy  of  notice  to  her. 

"  Nothing  is  unimportant  for  the  police,"  answered  the 
director.  "  If  you  know  anything,  tell  me  what  it  is." 

"  I  believe  my  signora  is  too  discreet,  and  would  not  tell 
it  herself.  But  when  she  had  been  stabbed  and  fainted  in 
my  arms,  her  last  sigh  was — Bolnau." 

"  What  ?  "  exclaimed  the  chief  of  police  angrily.  "  And 
they  have  not  told  me  of  this  yet  ?  This  is  very  important. 
Are  you  sure  you  heard  aright  ? — Bolnau  ?  " 

"  On  my  honor ! "  replied  the  girl,  laying  her  hands  on 
her  heart.  "  Bolnau  was  the  name  she  said,  and  with  such 
an  expression  of  grief  that  I  believe  it  must  be  the  name  of 
the  murderer.  But  please,  sir,  do  not  betray  me !  " 

The  chief  of  police  believed  on  principle  that  no  man, 
however  respectable  he  might  be,  was  too  good  to  commit 
a  crime.  Councilor  Bolnau  (he  knew  of  no  one  else  of  this 
name  in  the  city)  was  known  to  him  as  a  man  of  absolute 
probity  and  of  well-regulated  life.  But  were  there  not  in- 
stances of  people  of  just  this  character  discovered  later  to 
be  secret  criminals  ?  Might  not  this  man  be  in  league  with 
the  notorious  Chevalier  de  Planto?  In  such  musings  he 
continued  on  his  way,  and  as  he  neared  Broad  Street  it 
suddenly  occurred  to  him  that  this  was  the  hour  when  the 
councilor  was  wont  to  take  his  morning  promenade.  The 
chief  decided  it  was  a  very  good  chance  to  look  into  the 
matter  a  little.  As  he  turned  the  corner  he  saw  the  coun- 
cilor coming  down  the  street,  bowing  to  the  right  and  to 
the  left,  stopping  to  chat  and  laugh  every  few  steps,  a 
picture  of  cheerfulness  and  good  nature.  He  might  have 
been  about  fifty  steps  from  the  head  of  police  when  he 
caught  sight  of  him,  grew  pale,  and  turned  as  if  about  to 
go  down  a  side  street.  "  Suspicious,  most  suspicious !  " 
thought  the  chief,  calling  out  the  other's  name  as  if  he  had 
just  seen  him.  The  councilor  was  the  picture  of  misery. 
He  tried  to  smile  and  to  utter  a  jovial  "  Bonjour,"  but  his 

118 


Willielm  Hauff 

eyes  rolled  uneasily,  his  knees  trembled  and  his  teeth  chat- 
tered. 

"  Well,  well,  what  a  stranger  you  are !  I  haven't  seen 
you  pass  my  window  for  several  days.  Aren't  you  well? 
You  are  so  pale/'  The  chief  spoke  cheerfully,  but  he 
glanced  sharply  at  the  other's  face. 

"  Oh,  no,  it  was  just  a  little  chill — I  haven't  been  quite 
well  for  several  days,  but  I  think  that  I  am  all  right  now." 

"  Indeed !  You  have  not  been  well  ?  "  continued  the  head 
of  police.  "  I  should  not  have  thought  it !  I  seem  to  re- 
member to  have  seen  you  at  the  last  ball  in  excellent 
spirits/' 

"  Yes,  indeed !  But  the  very  following  day  I  had  to  go 
to  bed  with  one  of  my  attacks.  But  I  am  quite  well  again 
now." 

"Well,  in  that  case  you  will  be  certain  to  attend  the 
coming  ball.  It  is  to  be  the  last  of  the  season,  and  they 
say  it  will  be  unusually  brilliant.  I  hope  to  meet  you  there, 
councilor ;  and  until  then,  adieu !  " 


IX 


"  I  WILL  not  fail  to  be  there ! "  called  out  the  councilor 
with  a  very  depressed  expression.  "  He  suspects  me !  "  he 
thought  to  himself.  "  He  has  heard  of  that  last  word  be-' 
fore  she  fainted.  They  say  she  is  almost  well  again;  but 
what  does  that  matter  to  the  police  authorities  when  they 
once  suspect  you?  Could  he  have  been  spying  upon  me? 
Perhaps  they  are  following  me  and  reporting  to  him  every- 
thing that  I  say  or  do  ?  Merciful  Heaven !  to  think  that  / 
should  ever  have  come  to  be  a  dangerous  individual !  " 

Thus  reasoned  the  unfortunate  Bolnau,  his  fear  increas- 
ing as  he  thought  over  the  suspicious  question  about  the 
next  ball.  "  He  thinks  probably  that  I  would  not  dare  to 
approach  the  young  lady  because  of  a  guilty  conscience. 
But  I  will  go!  I  will  not  let  him  nourish  this  suspicion. 
But  suppose  I  really  should  tremble  and  become  excited 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

when  I  see  her?  He  would  then  believe  that  it  was  the 
pangs  of  remorse !  "  He  tortured  himself  with  these  ques- 
tionings for  days,  trying  in  vain  to  nerve  himself  to  face 
the  danger.  He  ordered  a  handsome  Oriental  costume,  the 
dress  of  the  Pasha  of  Janina.  He  put  it  on  every  day, 
and  standing  in  front  of  a  large  mirror,  he  endeavored  to 
school  his  features  until  he  should  look  as  if  he  were  quite 
at  home  in  this  new  garb.  He  made  a  lay  figure  out  of  his 
dressing-gown  and  sat  it  on  the  sofa ;  this  was  to  represent 
Signora  Bianetti.  He  bowed  politely  before  her  and  said, 
"  I  am  most  delighted  to  see  that  you  are  quite  well  again." 
On  the  third  day  he  had  progressed  sufficiently  to  say  his 
lesson  without  trembling.  Then  he  attempted  something 
still  more  difficult.  He  offered  the  lady  a  plate  with  bon- 
bons and  punch,  taking  a  glass  of  water  to  practice  on.  At 
first  the  dishes  rattled  in  his  trembling  hand,  but  he  soon 
learned  to  hold  them  more  steadily,  and  to  remark  quite 
cheerily,  "  My  dear  signora,  may  I  not  offer  you  some 
slight  refreshment  ?  "  He  was  getting  along  finely.  No 
mortal  man  should  see  him  tremble !  He  was  going  to  the 
ball,  be  he  ever  so  fearful ! 

Dr.  Lange  would  not  yield  to  anyone  else  the  pleasure  of 
escorting  his  recovered  patient  upon  her  first  appearance  in 
public.  He  accompanied  her  to  the  ball,  and  seemed  to 
feel  quite  proud  of  his  position  as  official  escort  of  the 
beautiful  girl  who  was  now  an  object  of  great  interest  to  all 
the  townspeople.  The  inhabitants  of  B.  are  a  strange  sort  ; 
but  perhaps  they  are  not  so  very  different  from  people  else- 
where, after  all !  In  the  first  days  of  the  exciting  affair  one 
could  hear  nothing  but  evil  said  of  the  singer,  from  the 
most  aristocratic  drawing-rooms  down  to  the  meanest  beer- 
gardens.  But  when  men  of  position  had  taken  up  the 
cudgels  in  her  behalf,  when  leaders  of  society  began  to 
praise  her,  the  tide  turned  in  her  favor,  and  the  entire  city 
seemed  to  look  upon  it  as  a  cause  for  public  rejoicing  that 
she  had  recovered  again.  When  she  entered  the  ballroom, 
the  entire  company  appeared  to  have  been  waiting  to  make 
her  the  queen  of  the  occasion.  They  cheered  and  clapped 

120 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

at  her  entrance,  crowded  about  her,  and  had  so  much  that 
was  complimentary  to  say  to  her  that  there  was  sufficient 
for  some  portion  to  fall  on  the  head  of  Dr.  Lange,  who  was 
much  praised  for  having  so  cleverly  brought  her  out  of 
danger. 

The  singer  was  very  happy  over  all  this  attention  and 
applause.  The  joy  of  it  almost  made  her  forget  the  seri- 
ous reason  for  her  appearance  that  evening.  But  the  four 
sturdily  built  dominos  who  were  constantly  near  her,  and 
the  doctor's  questions  as  to  whether  she  had  not  already 
caught  sight  of  the  chevalier's  gray  eyes,  reminded  her  of 
the  business  of  the  evening.  She  herself,  and  Dr.  Lange 
also,  had  noticed  that  a  tall,  gaunt  Turk  (in  B.  they  called 
it  the  costume  of  Ali  Baba)  was  apparently  endeavoring  to 
approach  her  and  to  remain  at  her  side.  Whenever  the 
movement  of  the  crowd  separated  them,  he  would  edge 
his  way  up  to  her  again.  The  singer  nudged  the  doctor 
and  glanced  toward  the  pasha.  The  doctor  followed  her 
glance,  and  said,  "  I've  been  noticing  him  for  some  time," 
as  the  Turk  approached  with  hesitating  steps.  The  singer 
held  her  escort's  arm  closer.  Now  he  was  quite  near.  Lit- 
tle gray  eyes  peeped  out  from  his  mask,  and  a  hollow  voice 
said :  "  Honored  signora,  I  am  most  delighted  to  see  you 
once  more  in  full  possession  of  your  health."  The  singer 
started,  trembled,  and  drew  back.  This  seemed  to  alarm 
the  man,  and  he  disappeared  again  in  the  crowd.  "  Was. 
that  he?  "  asked  the  doctor.  "  Try  to  be  strong;  you  know 
how  important  it  is  that  we  should  be  able  to  discover 
him.  Do  you  think  this  is  he  ?  " 

"  I  am  not  quite  certain  yet,"  she  answered.  "  But  I 
seem  to  recognize  his  eyes." 

Dr.  Lange  gave  the  four  dominos  the  order  to  watch 
the  pasha  sharply.  He  himself  walked  on  through  the 
hall  with  his  lady.  But  they  had  not  gone  very  far  before 
they  noticed  the  Turk  evidently  following  them  at  a  little 
distance. 

Dr.  Lange  and  his  companion  stepped  to  the  buffet  to 
take  some  refreshments.  Scarce  had  they  halted  when  the 

121 


German  Mystery  Stories 

Turk  was  at  their  side.  He  was  holding  a  plate  with  a 
glass  of  punch  and  some  bonbons  on  it;  his  eyes  glistened; 
the  glass  danced  about  on  the  shaking  plate.  Now  he  is 
at  her  side  and  holds  the  plate  out  to  her  with  the  words, 
"  My  dear  signora,  may  I  not  offer  you  some  slight  re- 
freshment? " 

The  singer  looked  at  him  in  alarm,  pushed  back  the  plate, 
and  cried:  "It  is  he,  it  is  he!  That  terrible  man!  He  is 
trying  to  poison  me !  " 

The  Pasha  of  Janina  stood  perfectly  motionless — he 
seemed  to  have  given  up  all  idea  of  resistance.  Without  a 
word  he  allowed  himself  to  be  led  away  by  the  four  sturdy 
dominos. 

At  the  same  moment  the  doctor  felt  somebody  pulling 
at  his  cloak  from  behind.  He  turned  and  saw  the  little 
humpbacked  lackey  from  the  Hotel  de  Portugal  standing 
pale  and  trembling  before  him.  "  For  the  love  of  God, 
doctor,  won't  you  please  come  with  me  to  No.  53?  The 
devil  is  just  about  to  fetch  the  French  gentleman." 

"  What  nonsense  is  this  ?  "  asked  the  doctor  angrily,  for 
he  was  just  about  to  follow  the  arrested  man  to  the  police 
station.  "  What  does  it  matter  to  me  if  the  devil  fetches 
him?" 

"  But  please,  honored  doctor,"  cried  the  little  man,  almost 
weeping,  "  I  thought  you  might  possibly  save  him.  Your 
honor  is  court  physician,  and  usually  goes  to  the  sick  people 
in  the  hotels." 

Dr.  Lange  swallowed  a  curse,  for  he  saw  that  he  would 
not  be  able  to  avoid  this  call.  He  motioned  to  Boloni, 
who  was  standing  near  them,  put  the  singer  in  his  charge, 
and  hurried  off  to  the  hotel  with  the  little  lackey. 


X 

IT  was  quiet  and  deserted  in  the  great  hotel.  Midnight 
had  passed,  and  the  lamps  in  the  halls  and  on  the  stairways 
burned  dimly.  Dr.  Lange  had  an  uncanny  sensation  as 

122 


Wilhclm  Hauff 

he  followed  the  little  man  upstairs  to  the  solitary  invalid. 
The  lackey  opened  the  door,  the  doctor  entered,  and  almost 
sank  to  his  knees  in  his  horror.  Here  lay,  or  rather  sat,  in 
the  bed  the  very  same  sort  of  being  who  had  for  several 
days  been  occupying  his  waking  and  sleeping  thoughts. 
It  was  a  tall,  gaunt,  elderly  man  with  a  pointed  white  night- 
cap drawn  over  his  forehead.  Under  the  nightcap  a  large, 
sharp  nose  rose  out  of  a  thin  yellow-brown  face.  From  his 
color  one  might  have  thought  the  man  already  dead,  had 
not  a  pair  of  piercing  gray  eyes  given  him  a  look  of  terrify- 
ing life.  His  long,  thin  fingers  were  scratching  at  the  bed 
covering,  while  he  laughed  incessantly,  a  hoarse,  frightful 
laugh. 

"  Look,  he  is  digging  his  own  grave ! "  whispered  the 
little  lackey,  waking  the  doctor  out  of  his  dazed  staring  at 
the  sick  man.  It  was  just  thus  that  he  had  imagined  the 
Chevalier  de  Planto  would  look:  this  piercing  gray  eye, 
these  repulsive  features,  this  thin,  bony  figure — all  just  as 
the  singer  had  described  him.  But  then  he  controlled  him- 
self— had  he  not  just  seen  the  chevalier  arrested?  Might 
not  another  man  have  gray  eyes?  And  should  he  be  sur- 
prised if  a  sick  man  was  thin  and  pale  ?  The  doctor  laughed 
at  himself  and  stepped  to  the  bedside.  But  in  all  his  long1 
years  of  practice  he  had  never  felt  such  fear,  such  repulsion 
at  any  sick  bed  as  he  did  here,  when  he  took  the  cold, 
clammy  hand  in  his. 

"  This  stupid  fellow,"  cried  the  sick  man  with  a  weak, 
hoarse  voice,  mingling  French,  bad  Italian,  and  broken 
German  together  in  his  speech — "  this  stupid  fellow  has 
brought  me  a  doctor,  I  do  believe.  You  will  pardon  him, 
sir.  I  have  never  thought  much  of  your  art.  The  only 
thing  that  can  help  me  are  the  baths  of  Genoa.  I  have  told 
this  little  beast  to  order  post-horses  for  me.  I  will  set  out 
to-night." 

"  He'll  set  out,"  murmured  the  little  lackey ;  "  he'll  set 
out  with  six  coal-black  steeds,  but  it  won't  be  to  Genoa  he 
goes.  He's  going  to  that  place  where  there  is  weeping  and 
gnashing  of  teeth."  The  doctor  saw  that  there  was  very 

123 


German  Mystery  Stories 

k 

little  to  do  here.  He  recognized  the  symptoms  of  ap- 
proaching death  in  the  sick  man's  eyes  and  in  his  uneasi- 
ness. He  contented  himself,  therefore,  with  the  command 
to  the  patient  to  lie  as  quiet  as  possible,  and  promised  him 
a  soothing  draught. 

The  sick  man  laughed  grimly.  "  Lie  quiet  ? "  he  an- 
swered. "  When  I  lie  still,  I  can't  breathe.  I  must  sit  up ! 
I  must  sit  in  my  carriage !  I  must  get  away  from  here ! 
JDog,  have  you  ordered  my  horses,  and  packed  my  lug- 
gage?" 

"  Oh,  dear  Lord  above  !  "  groaned  the  little  man.  "  Here 
he  is  thinking  about  his  luggage.  It'll  be  a  heavy  sackful 
of  sins  that  he  takes  with  him.  It  wouldn't  be  possible  to 
tell  you  all  the  godless  speeches  and  curses  I  have  heard 
him  utter." 

The  physician  took  the  sick  man's  hand  again.  "  Will 
you  not  trust  me  a  little  ?  "  he  said.  "  My  art  may  be  able 
to  help  you,  after  all.  Your  servant  tells  me  that  you  have 
an  old  wound  which  has  opened  again.  Will  you  not  let 
me  examine  it?" 

The  sick  man  complied  with  grumblings.  The  physician 
took  off  a  badly  made  bandage,  and  found — a  stab  wound 
near  the  heart !  Remarkable  to  relate,  the  wound  was  of 
the  same  size  and  character,  and  almost  exactly  in  the  same 
place  as  the  singer's  wound  had  been. 

"  But  this  is  a  fresh  wound,  a  stab !  "  cried  the  doctor, 
looking  at  the  patient  with  distrust.  "  Where  did  you  get 
this  wound  ?  " 

"  You  think  I  stabbed  myself?  Or  that  I  have  been 
dueling?  No,  by  all  the  devils!  I  had  a  dagger  in  my 
breast  pocket,  and  I  scratched  myself  a  little  in  falling 
downstairs." 

"  Scratched  himself  a  little  ?  "  thought  Lange.  "  He  will 
die  of  this  wound." 

He  had  prepared  some  lemonade,  and  held  it  out  to  the 
sick  man.  The  latter  seemed  to  feel  refreshed  after  drink- 
ing. He  lay  still  for  a  few  moments ;  then,  seeing  that  sev- 
eral drops  had  fallen  on  the  coverlet,  he  began  to  curse 

124 


Wilhclm  Hauff 

and  demanded  a  handkerchief.  The  lackey  ran  to  a  chest, 
opened  it  and  brought  out  a  handkerchief.  A  sudden  ter- 
rible suspicion  arose  in  Dr.  Lange's  mind.  The  handker- 
chief was  of  the  same  material  and  color  as  the  one  which 
had  been  found  in  the  singer's  room.  The  little  servant 
was  about  to  hand  the  cloth  to  the  sick  man  when  the  latter 
pushed  it  away,  and  cried :  "  To  the  devil  with  you,  little 
beast !  How  often  must  I  tell  you  to  put  eau  de  heliotrope 
on  it  ?  "  The  servant  took  out  a  little  bottle  and  sprinkled 
some  drops  upon  the  cloth.  It  was  the  same  perfume  that 
the  other  handkerchief  had  exhaled. 

Dr.  Lange  trembled  in  every  limb.  There  was  no  longer 
any  doubt  this  man  here  was  the  would-be  murderer  of  the 
singer  Bianetti — the  Chevalier  de  Planto!  It  was  a  help- 
less and  dying  man  that  he  saw  before  him,  but  the  doctor 
felt  as  if  he  might  at  any  moment  spring  from  his  bed  and 
clutch  at  his  throat.  He  could  not  endure  to  remain  an 
instant  longer  in  the  room  with  this  terrible  man.  As  he 
took  up  his  hat,  the  little  lackey  clutched  at  his  coat  and 
groaned :  "  Oh,  your  honor,  don't  leave  me  alone  with  him ! 
I  should  die  of  fright  if  he  were  to  die  now  and  walk  about 
like  a  ghost  in  his  flannel  clothes  and  his  nightcap.  For 
the  love  of  God,  don't  leave  me." 

The  sick  man  grinned  alarmingly,  and  laughed  and 
cursed  all  together.  The  fright  of  the  little  servant  seemed 
to  amuse  him.  He  put  one  long,  thin  leg  out  of  the  bed* 
and  waved  his  claw-like  hands  in  the  air.  The  doctor  could 
endure  it  no  longer.  The  madness  of  the  other  seemed  to 
pass  over  into  his  own  soul.  He  pushed  back  the  little 
lackey  and  rushed  from  the  room.  Even  at  the  street  door 
below  he  could  still  hear  the  murderer's  horrible  laugh. 

The  following  morning  a  carriage  stopped  before  the 
Hotel  de  Portugal.  A  veiled  lady  and  two  elderly  gentle- 
men dismounted  from  it  and  entered  the  house.  "  It  is  a 
strange  chance  that  he  should  have  wounded  himself  so 
severely  in  falling  downstairs  that  he  could  not  flee  from 
the  city.  And  a  still  stranger  chance  that  it  was  just  you, 


German  Mystery  Stories 

Lange,  that  was  called  to  him,"  remarked  one  of  the  gentle- 
men. 

"  It  was,  indeed,"  said  the  veiled  lady.  "  But  did  you 
not  think  it  was  also  a  strange  chance  about  the  handker- 
chiefs ?  One  of  them  he  left  in  my  room,  and  then  to  think 
that  he  should  have  asked  for  another  in  the  very  moment 
that  the  doctor  was  with  him." 

"  That  is  fate !  "  said  the  other  gentleman.  "  It  is  as  if 
it  were  ordained  that  it  should  happen  so.  But  I  had  almost 
forgotten  something  in  all  this  excitement.  How  about  the 
pasha  who  was  arrested?  Signora  must  have  been  mis- 
taken. Did  you  release  him  again?  Who  was  the  poor 
devil?" 

"  Quite  the  contrary !  "  said  the  first  gentleman.  "  I  am 
convinced  that  this  man  is  an  accomplice  of  the  murderer. 
I  have  had  my  eye  on  him  for  some  time.  I  have  ordered 
him  to  be  brought  here.  I  want  to  confront  him  with  the 
villain  upstairs." 

"An  accomplice?    Impossible!"  cried  the  lady. 

"  Not  at  all,"  said  the  gentleman  with  a  slight  smile. 
"  We  know  a  good  deal  more  than  we  are  willing  to  say 
just  yet.  But  here  we  are  at  No.  53.  Mademoiselle,  will 
you  have  the  kindness  to  step  in  here  to  No.  54  for  the 
time  being?  Signor  Boloni  has  permitted  us  to  use  his 
room  as  long  as  we  need  it.  When  I  am  ready  to  question 
you  I  will  send  for  you." 

We  need  not  tell  the  reader  that  these  three  persons  were 
the  singer,  the  doctor,  and  the  head  of  police.  They  came 
to  accuse  the  Chevalier  de  Planto  of  an  attempt  at  murder. 
The  chief  and  the  physician  entered  No.  53.  The  sick  man 
sat  up  in  bed  just  as  the  doctor  had  seen  him  the  night 
before.  In  the  light  of  day  his  features  seemed  still  more 
haggard,  the  expression  of  his  eye  still  more  terrible.  He 
looked  at  the  doctor,  then  at  his  companion,  with  a  glance 
which  seemed  already  that  of  a  dying  man.  He  seemed 
trying  to  find  out  what  all  this  could  mean,  for  he  already 
had  one  other  visitor  in  his  room,  a  young  attorney  with 
red  cheeks  and  bright  eyes.  The  latter  had  taken  a  place 

126 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

at  a  table,  arranged  a  pile  of  white  paper  before  him,  and 
held  a  long  pen  ready  in  his  hand. 

"  Beast,  what  do  these  gentlemen  wish  here  ?  "  cried  the 
sick  man  in  a  weak  voice  to  his  little  servant.  "  You  know 
I  do  not  receive  visitors." 

The  chief  of  police  stepped  to  the  bed,  looked  firmly  at 
the  sick  man,  and  said  with  emphasis,  "  Chevalier  de 
Planto!" 

"  Qui  vivef "  cried  the  sick  man,  raising  his  head  in 
military  salute. 

"  You  are  the  Chevalier  de  Planto?  " 

The  gray  eyes  gleamed,  he  threw  piercing  glances  about 
the  room,  laughed  mockingly,  and  shook  his  head  as  he 
replied,  "  The  chevalier  is  long  since  dead." 

"  And  who  are  you  ?  I  command  you  to  answer,  in  the 
name  of  the  king." 

The  dying  man  laughed :  "  My  name  is  Lorier.  Beast, 
show  the  gentleman  my  passport." 

"  It  will  not  be  necessary.  Do  you  recognize  this  hand- 
kerchief?" 

"Why  should  I  not  recognize  it?  You  have  just  taken 
it  from  the  chair  there.  But  why  do  you  annoy  me  with 
these  questions  ?  " 

"  If  you  will  look  down  at  your  left  hand,"  said  the  chief, 
"  you  will  see  that  you  are  holding  your  own  handkerchief. 
This  one  was  found  in  the  house  of  a  certain  Giuseppa' 
Bianetti." 

The  sick  man  threw  an  angry  look  at  his  visitors.  He 
clenched  his  fists  and  gnashed  his  teeth,  but  he  would  not 
speak  another  word.  The  chief  of  police  motioned  to  the 
doctor.  The  latter  left  the  room  and  returned  in  an  instant 
with  the  singer,  Signer  Boloni,  and  the  Ambassador  Baron 
Martinow. 

"  Baron  Martinow !  "  the  chief  turned  to  the  ambassador, 
"  do  you  recognize  this  man  for  the  person  you  knew  in 
Paris  under  the  name  of  the  Chevalier  de  Planto  ?  " 

"  I  do,"  replied  the  baron.  "  And  I  am  ready  to  repeat 
what  I  have  already  told  the  police  about  him." 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

"  Giuseppa  Bianetti,  is  this  the  man  who  took  you  from 
your  stepfather's  home,  who  brought  you  into  his  house  in 
Paris,  and  whom  you  accuse  of  the  attempt  to  murder 
you  ?  " 

The  singer  trembled  as  she  looked  on  the  terrible  man, 
but  before  she  could  answer,  he  himself  spared  her  all  fur- 
ther confession.  He  raised  himself  still  higher  in  his  bed, 
the  top  of  his  woolen  nightcap  seemed  to  rise  up  of  itself, 
his  arms  were  so  stiff  that  he  could  scarcely  move  them, 
but  his  fingers  caught  at  the  air  like  greedy  claws.  His 
voice  was  scarcely  more  than  a  hoarse  whisper. 

"  Are  you  come  to  visit  me,  Seppa  ?  That  is  nice  of  you. 
I  know  that  you  are  delighted  to  see  me  looking  like  this. 
I  am  sorry,  indeed,  that  I  did  not  reach  your  heart,  for  I 
would  gladly  have  spared  you  the  pain  of  seeing  your  uncle 
mocked  thus  by  these  beasts  !  " 

"  What  more  witness  do  we  need  ?  "  interrupted  the  chief. 
"  Attorney,  you  will  please  write  out  a  warrant  of  arrest 
for % 

"  What  would  you  do  ?  "  cried  the  doctor.  "  Don't  you 
see  his  death  is  very  near?  He  will  not  live  half  an  hour 
longer.  If  you  have  any  more  questions  to  ask  him,  do  it 
at  once." 

The  chief  ordered  a  servant  to  tell  the  gendarmes  wait- 
ing downstairs  that  they  were  to  bring  up  their  captive. 
The  sick  man  sank  down  more  and  more  in  his  pillows. 
His  eye  was  breaking,  but  rage  and  anger  still  held  it  fixed 
on  the  trembling  girl. 

"  Seppa,"  he  whispered  again.  "  You  have  ruined  me ; 
it  was  for  that  that  you  deserved  death.  You  have  ruined 
your  father;  they  sent  him  to  prison  because  he  had  sold 
you  for  money.  He  employed  me  to  kill  you — I  regret  in- 
deed that  my  hands  trembled.  Cursed  be  these  hands  that 
can  no  longer  strike  true !  "  The  terrible  curses  which  he 
continued  to  pour  out  over  himself  and  Giuseppa  were  inter- 
rupted by  new  arrivals.  Two  gendarmes  brought  in  a  man 
in  Turkish  garb — the  unfortunate  Pasha  of  Janina.  Un- 
der the  turban  was  the  utterly  miserable  face  of  Councilor 

128 


Wilhelm  Hauff 

Bolnau!  The  entire  company  was  struck  dumb  with  as- 
tonishment at  this  apparition.  The  musician  Boloni  seemed 
particularly  startled ;  he  grew  first  red,  then  pale,  and  turned 
his  head  away. 

"  Chevalier  de  Planto,"  said  the  chief,  "  do  you  know 
this  man  ?  " 

The  sick  man  had  closed  his  eyes.  He  opened  them  with 
difficulty  and  said,  "  Send  him  to  the  devil !  I  never  saw 
him  before." 

The  Turk  looked  at  those  about  him  with  an  expression 
of  utter  despair.  "  I  knew  that  it  would  happen  thus,"  he 
said  with  tears  in  his  voice.  "  I  have  been  afraid  of  this. 
Mademoiselle  Bianetti,  how  could  you  bring  an  innocent 
man  into  all  this  misery  ?  " 

"  But  what  is  the  matter  with  the  gentleman  ?  "  asked 
the  singer.  "  I  do  not  know  him  at  all.  What  has  he  done, 
sir?" 

The  chief  answered  in  great  solemnity :  "  Signora,  the 
Court  of  Justice  knows  no  partiality !  You  must  know  this 
gentleman;  it  is  Councilor  Bolnau.  Your  own  servant  has 
confessed  that  when  you  were  stabbed,  you  called  upon  his 
name." 

The  pasha  groaned :  "  Yes,  indeed,  my  honest  name  at 
such  a  moment !  " 

The  singer  was  much  astonished.  A  deep  flush  colored 
her  beautiful  face,  she  caught  the  hand  of  her  lover  and' 
exclaimed :  "  Carlo,  we  must  speak  now !  Yes,  sir,  I  did 
mention  this  name,  so  dear  to  me,  but  it  was  not  that  gen- 
tleman I  meant — it  was " 

"  It  was  I !  "  exclaimed  the  musician,  stepping  forward. 
"  My  name,  if  my  dear  father  there  will  allow  me,  is  Carl 
Bolnau." 

"  Carl !  Musician !  American !  "  cried  the  Turk,  seizing 
him  in  his  arms.  "  That  is  the  first  sensible  word  you  ever 
said.  You  have  saved  me  in  my  hour  of  need." 

"  If  this  is  the  case,"  said  the  chief  of  police,  "  then  you 
are  free,  and  our  business  here  is  only  with  this  Chevalier  de 
Planto."  He  turned  to  the  bed,  but  the  physician  was  al- 

129 


German  Mystery  Stories 

ready  standing  there,  holding  the  hand  of  the  murderer  in 
his  own.  He  now  laid  it  gravely  back  on  to  the  coverlet 
and  closed  the  staring  eyes.  "  He  has  gone  before  a  higher 
judge,"  he  said  solemnly. 

They  walked  softly  from  the  room,  and  entered  the  mu- 
sician's apartment.  The  singer  buried  her  face  on  her 
lover's  breast,  and  her  tears,  the  last  she  should  ever  weep 
over  her  unfortunate  fate,  flowed  freely.  The  pasha  walked 
about  the  group,  as  if  struggling  for  some  important  de- 
cision. He  whispered  to  the  doctor,  then  approached  the 
young  couple. 

"  My  dearest  mademoiselle,"  he  said,  "  I  have  had  much 
to  suffer  on  your  account.  As  you  have  uttered  my  name 
at  such  an  important  moment,  I  must  beg  you  to  take  it  for 
your  own.  You  scorned  the  refreshment  I  offered  you 
yesterday.  But  to-day  I  hope  you  will  not  refuse  me — 
when  I  present  to  you  this  musical  son  of  mine,  and  ask 
you  to  marry  him." 

She  did  not  refuse  this  time,  but  caught  his  hand  and 
kissed  it  fervently.  The  young  musician  clasped  her  in 
his  arms  again,  and  seemed  to  have  quite  forgotten  his 
usual  tragical  pathos.  The  councilor  took  the  doctor's  hand 
and  said :  "  Would  we  have  thought,  Lange,  that  all  this 
would  happen  the  day  you  told  me  to  count  the  windows 
in  the  Palace — when  you  said  to  me,  '  Her  last  word  was 
Bolnau'?" 

"  Well,  and  what  more  do  you  want  ?  "  replied  the  physi- 
cian, laughing.  "  It  was  all  for  the  best  that  I  told  you  this 
circumstance  then.  For  who  knows  whether  it  would  have 
all  come  about  like  this  without  the  singer's  last  word  ?  " 


130 


Ernest  Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 
The  Deserted  House 


were  all  agreed  in  the  belief  that  the  actual  facts 
of  life  are  often  far  more  wonderful  than  the  inven- 
tion of  even  the  liveliest  imagination  can  be. 

"  It  seems  to  me/'  spoke  Lelio,  "  that  history  gives  proof 
sufficient  of  this.  And  that  is  why  the  so-called  historical 
romances  seem  so  repulsive  and  tasteless  to  us,  those  stories 
wherein  the  author  mingles  the  foolish  fancies  of  his  meager 
brain  with  the  deeds  of  the  great  powers  of  the  universe." 

Franz  took  the  word.  "  It  is  the  deep  reality  of  the  in- 
scrutable secrets  surrounding  us  that  oppresses  us  with  a 
might  wherein  we'  recognize  the  Spirit  that  rules,  the  Spirit 
out  of  which  our  being  springs."  "  Alas,"  said  Lelio,  "  it 
is  the  most  terrible  result  of  the  fall  of  man,  that  we  have 
lost  the  power  of  recognizing  the  eternal  verities." 

"  Many  are  called,  but  few  are  chosen,"  broke  in  Franz. 
"  Do  you  not  believe  that  an  understanding  of  the  wonders 
of  our  existence  is  given  to  some  of  us  in  the  form  of  an- 
other sense?  But  if  you  would  allow  me  to  drag  the  con- 
versation up  from  these  dark  regions  where  we  are  in  dan- 
ger of  losing  our  path  altogether  up  into  the  brightness  of 
light-hearted  merriment,  I  would  like  to  make  the  scurrilous 
suggestion  that  those  mortals  to  whom  this  gift  of  seeing 
the  Unseen  has  been  given  remind  me  of  bats.  You  know 
the  learned  anatomist  Spallanzani  has  discovered  a  sixth 
sense  in  these  little  animals  which  can  do  not  only  the 
entire  work  of  the  other  senses,  but  work  of  its  own 
besides." 

"  Oho,"  laughed  Edward,  "  according  to  that,  the  bats 
would  be  the  only  natural-born  clairvoyants.  But  I  know 
some  one  who  possesses  that  gift  of  insight,  of  which  you 


German  Mystery  Stories 

were  speaking,  in  a  remarkable  degree.  Because  of  it  he 
will  often  follow  for  days  some  unknown  person  who  has 
happened  to  attract  his  attention  by  an  oddity  in  manner, 
appearance,  or  garb;  he  will  ponder  to  melancholy  over 
some  trifling  incident,  some  lightly  told  story ;  he  will  com- 
bine the  antipodes  and  raise  up  relationships  in  his  imag- 
ination which  are  unknown  to  everyone  else." 

"  Wait  a  bit,"  cried  Lelio.  "  It  is  our  Theodore  of  whom 
you  are  speaking  now.  And  it  looks  to  me  as  if  he  were 
having  some  weird  vision  at  this  very  moment.  See  how 
strangely  he  gazes  out  into  the  distance." 

Theodore  had  been  sitting  in  silence  up  to  this  moment. 
Now  he  spoke :  "  If  my  glances  are  strange  it  is  because 
they  reflect  the  strange  things  that  were  called  up  before  my 
mental  vision  by  your  conversation,  the  memories  of  a  most 
remarkable  adventure " 

"  Oh,  tell  it  to  us,"  interrupted  his  friends. 

"  Gladly,"  continued  Theodore.  "  But  first,  let  me  set 
right  a  slight  confusion  in  your  ideas  on  the  subject  of  the 
mysterious.  You  appear  to  confound  what  is  merely  odd 
and  unusual  with  what  is  really  mysterious  or  marvelous, 
that  which  surpasses  comprehension  or  belief.  The  odd 
and  the  unusual,  it  is  true,  spring  often  from  the  truly 
marvelous,  and  the  twigs  and  flowers  hide  the  parent  stem 
from  our  eyes.  Both  the  odd  and  the  unusual  and  the  truly 
marvelous  are  mingled  in  the  adventure  which  I  am  about 
to  narrate  to  you,  mingled  in  a  manner  which  is  striking 
and  even  awesome."  With  these  words  Theodore  drew 
from  his  pocket  a  notebook  in  which,  as  his  friends  knew, 
he  had  written  down  the  impressions  of  his  late  journey- 
ings.  Refreshing  his  memory  by  a  look  at  its  pages  now 
and  then,  he  narrated  the  following  story. 

You  know  already  that  I  spent  the  greater  part  of  last 
summer  in  X .  The  many  old  friends  and  acquaint- 
ances I  found  there,  the  free,  jovial  life,  the  manifold  artis- 
tic and  intellectual  interests — all  these  combined  to  keep 
me  in  that  city.  I  was  happy  as  never  before,  and  found 

132 


Ernest  Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

rich  nourishment  for  my  old  fondness  for  wandering  alone 
through  the  streets,  stopping  to  enjoy  every  picture  in  the 
shop  windows,  every  placard  on  the  walls,  or  watching  the 
passers-by  and  choosing  some  one  or  the  other  of  them  to 
cast  his  horoscope  secretly  to  myself. 

There  is  one  broad  avenue  leading  to  the Gate  and 

lined  with  handsome  buildings  of  all  descriptions,  which  is 
the  meeting  place  of  the  rich  and  fashionable  world.  The 
shops  which  occupy  the  ground  floor  of  the  tall  palaces  are 
devoted  to  the  trade  in  articles  of  luxury,  and  the  apart- 
ments above  are  the  dwellings  of  people  of  wealth  and 
position.  The  aristocratic  hotels  are  to  be  found  in  this 
avenue,  the  palaces  of  the  foreign  ambassadors  are  there, 
and  you  can  easily  imagine  that  such  a  street  would  be  the 
center  of  the  city's  life  and  gayety. 

I  had  wandered  through  the  avenue  several  times,  when 
one  day  my  attention  was  caught  by  a  house  which  con- 
trasted strangely  with  the  others  surrounding  it.  Picture 
to  yourselves  a  low  building  but  four  windows  broad, 
crowded  in  between  two  tall,  handsome  structures.  Its  one 
upper  story  was  little  higher  than  the  tops  of  the  ground- 
floor  windows  of  its  neighbors,  its  roof  was  dilapidated,  its 
windows  patched  with  paper,  its  discolored  walls  spoke  of 
years  of  neglect.  You  can  imagine  how  strange  such  a 
house  must  have  looked  in  this  street  of  wealth  and  fashion. 
Looking  at  it  more  attentively  I  perceived  that  the  windows 
of  the  upper  story  were  tightly  closed  and  curtained,  and 
that  a  wall  had  been  built  to  hide  the  windows  of  the  ground 
floor.  The  entrance  gate,  a  little  to  one  side,  served  also 
as  a  doorway  for  the  building,  but  I  could  find  no  sign  of 
latch,  lock,  or  even  a  bell  on  this  gate.  I  was  convinced 
that  the  house  must  be  unoccupied,  for  at  whatever  hour  of 
the  day  I  happened  to  be  passing  I  had  never  seen  the 
faintest  signs  of  life  about  it.  An  unoccupied  house  in  this 
avenue  was  indeed  an  odd  sight.  But  I  explained  the 
phenomenon  to  myself  by  saying  that  the  owner  was  doubt- 
less absent  upon  a  long  journey,  or  living  upon  his  country 
estates,  and  that  he  perhaps  did  not  wish  to  sell  or  rent  the 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

property,  preferring  to  keep  it  for  his  own  use  in  the 
eventuality  of  a  visit  to  the  city. 

You  all,  the  good  comrades  of  my  youth,  know  that  I 
have  been  prone  to  consider  myself  a  sort  of  clairvoyant, 
claiming  to  have  glimpses  of  a  strange  world  of  wonders, 
a  world  which  you,  with  your  hard  common  sense,  would 
attempt  to  deny  or  laugh  away.  I  confess  that  I  have  often 
lost  myself  in  mysteries  which  after  all  turned  out  to  be  no 
mysteries  at  all.  And  it  looked  at  first  as  if  this  was  to 
happen  to  me  in  the  matter  of  the  deserted  house,  that 
strange  house  which  drew  my  steps  and  my  thoughts  to 
itself  with  a  power  that  surprised  me.  But  the  point  of 
my  story  will  prove  to  you  that  I  am  right  in  asserting 
that  I  know  more  than  you  do.  Listen  now  to  what  I  am 
about  to  tell  you. 

One  day,  at  the  hour  in  which  the  fashionable  world  is 
accustomed  to  promenade  up  and  down  the  avenue,  I  stood 
as  usual  before  the  deserted  house,  lost  in  thought.  Sud- 
denly I  felt,  without  looking  up,  that  some  one  had  stopped 
beside  me,  fixing  his  eyes  on  me.  It  was  Count  P.,  whom 
I  had  found  much  in  sympathy  with  many  of  my  imag- 
inings, and  I  knew  that  he  also  must  have  been  deeply 
interested  in  the  mystery  of  this  house.  It  surprised  me 
not  a  little,  therefore,  that  he  should  smile  ironically  when  I 
spoke  of  the  strange  impression  that  this  deserted  dwelling, 
here  in  the  gay  heart  of  the  town,  had  made  upon  me.  'But 
I  soon  discovered  the  reason  for  his  irony.  Count  P.  had 
gone  much  farther  than  myself  in  his  imaginings  concern- 
ing the  house.  He  had  constructed  for  himself  a  com- 
plete history  of  the  old  building,  a  story  weird  enough  to 
have  been  born  in  the  fancy  of  a  true  poet.  It  would  give 
me  great  pleasure  to  relate  this  story  to  you,  but  the  events 
which  happened  to  me  in  this  connection  are  so  interesting 
that  I  feel  I  must  proceed  with  the  narration  of  them  at 
once. 

When  the  count  had  completed  his  story  to  his  own  satis- 
faction, imagine  his  feelings  on  learning  one  day  that  the 
old  house  contained  nothing  more  mysterious  than  a  cake 

134 


Ernest   Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

bakery  belonging  to  the  pastry  cook  whose  handsome  shop 
adjoined  the  old  structure.  The  windows  of  the  ground 
floor  were  walled  up  to  give  protection  to  the  ovens,  and  the 
heavy  curtains  of  the  upper  story  were  to  keep  the  sunlight 
from  the  wares  laid  out  there.  When  the  count  informed 
me  of  this  I  felt  as  if  a  bucket  of  cold  water  had  been 
suddenly  thrown  over  me.  The  demon  who  is  the  enemy 
of  all  poets  caught  the  dreamer  by  the  nose  and  tweaked 
him  painfully. 

And  yet,  in  spite  of  this  prosaic  explanation,  I  could  not 
resist  stopping  before  the  deserted  house  whenever  I  passed 
it,  and  gentle  tremors  rippled  through  my  veins  as  vague 
visions  arose  of  what  might  be  hidden  there.  I  could 
not  believe  in  this  story  of  the  cake  and  candy  factory. 
Through  some  strange  freak  of  the  imagination  I  felt  as 
a  child  feels  when  some  fairy  tale  has  been  told  it  to  con- 
ceal the  truth  it  suspects.  I  scolded  myself  for  a  silly  fool ; 
the  house  remained  unaltered  in  its  appearance,  and  the 
visions  faded  in  my  brain,  until  one  day  a  chance  incident 
woke  them  to  life  again. 

I  was  wandering  through  the  avenue  as  usual,  and  as  I 
passed  the  deserted  house  I  could  not  resist  a  hasty  glance 
at  its  close-curtained  upper  windows.  But  as  I  looked  at 
it,  the  curtain  on  the  last  window  near  the  pastry  shop 
began  to  move.  A  hand,  an  arm,  came  out  from  between 
its  folds.  I  took  my  opera  glass  from  my  pocket  and  saw 
a  beautifully  formed  woman's  hand,  on  the  little  finger  of 
which  a  large  diamond  sparkled  in  unusual  brilliancy ;  a  rich 
bracelet  glittered  on  the  white,  rounded  arm.  The  hand  set 
a  tall,  oddly  formed  crystal  bottle  on  the  window  ledge  and 
disappeared  again  behind  the  curtain. 

I  stopped  as  if  frozen  to  stone ;  a  weirdly  pleasurable  sen- 
sation, mingled  with  awe,  streamed  through  my  being  with 
the  warmth  of  an  electric  current.  I  stared  up  at  the  mys- 
terious window  and  a  sigh  of  longing  arose  from  the  very 
depths  of  my  heart.  When  I  came  to  myself  again,  I  was 
angered  to  find  that  I  was  surrounded  by  a  crowd  which 
stood  gazing  up  at  the  window  with  curious  faces.  I  stole 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

away  inconspicuously,  and  the  demon  of  all  things  prosaic 
whispered  to  me  that  what  I  had  just  seen  was  the  rich 
pastry  cook's  wife,  in  her  Sunday  adornment,  placing  an 
empty  bottle,  used  for  rose-water  or  the  like,  on  the  window 
sill.  Nothing  very  weird  about  this. 

Suddenly  a  most  sensible  thought  came  to  me.  I  turned 
and  entered  the  shining,  mirror-walled  shop  of  the  pastry 
cook.  Blowing  the  steaming  foam  from  my  cup  of  choco- 
late, I  remarked :  "  You  have  a  very  useful  addition  to  your 
establishment  next  door."  The  man  leaned  over  his  counter 
and  looked  at  me  with  a  questioning  smile,  as  if  he  did  not 
understand  me.  I  repeated  that  in  my  opinion  he  had  been 
very  clever  to  set  up  his  bakery  in  the  neighboring  house, 
although  the  deserted  appearance  of  the  building  was  a 
strange  sight  in  its  contrasting  surroundings.  "  Why,  sir," 
began  the  pastry  cook,  "who  told  you  that  the  house 
next  door  belongs  to  us?  Unfortunately  every  attempt 
on  our  part  to  acquire  it  has  been  in  vain,  and  I  fancy  it 
is  all  the  better  so,  for  there  is  something  queer  about  the 
place." 

You  can  imagine,  dear  friends,  how  interested  I  became 
upon  hearing  these  words,  and  that  I  begged  the  man  to 
tell  me  more  about  the  house. 

"  I  do  not  know  anything  very  definite,  sir,"  he  said. 
"  All  that  we  know  for  a  certainty  is  that  the  house  belongs 
to  the  Countess  S.,  who  lives  on  her  estates  and  has  "not 
been  to  the  city  for  years.  This  house,  so  they  tell  me, 
stood  in  its  present  shape  before  any  of  the  handsome  build- 
ings were  raised  which  are  now  the  pride  of  our  avenue, 
and  in  all  these  years  there  has  been  nothing  done  to  it 
except  to  keep  it  from  actual  decay.  Two  living  creatures 
alone  dwell  there,  an  aged  misanthrope  of  a  steward  and 
his  melancholy  dog,  which  occasionally  howls  at  the  moon 
from  the  back  courtyard.  According  to  the  general  story 
the  deserted  house  is  haunted.  In  very  truth  my  brother, 
who  is  the  owner  of  this  shop,  and  myself  have  often,  when 
our  business  kept  us  awake  during  the  silence  of  the  night, 
heard  strange  sounds  from  the  other  side  of  the  wall 

136 


Ernest   The  odor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

There  was  a  rumbling  and  a  scraping  that  frightened  us 
both.  And  not  very  long  ago  we  heard  one  night  a  strange 
singing  which  I  could  not  describe  to  you.  It  was  evi- 
dently the  voice  of  an  old  woman,  but  the  tones  were  so 
sharp  and  clear,  and  ran  up  to  the  top  of  the  scale  in 
cadences  and  long  trills,  the  like  of  which  I  have  never 
heard  before,  although  I  have  heard  many  singers  in  many 
lands.  It  seemed  to  be  a  French  song,  but  I  am  not  quite 
sure  of  that,  for  I  could  not  listen  long  to  the  mad,  ghostly 
singing,  it  made  the  hair  stand  erect  on  my  head.  And  at 
times,  after  the  street  noises  are  quiet,  we  can  hear  deep 
sighs,  and  sometimes  a  mad  laugh,  which  seem  to  come  out 
of  the  earth.  But  if  you  lay  your  ear  to  the  wall  in  our 
back  room,  you  can  hear  that  the  noises  come  from  the 
house  next  door."  He  led  me  into  the  back  room  and 
pointed  through  the  window.  "  And  do  you  see  that  iron 
chimney  coming  out  of  the  wall  there  ?  It  smokes  so  heav- 
ily sometimes,  even  in  summer  when  there  are  no  fires  used, 
that  my  brother  has  often  quarreled  with  the  old  steward 
about  it,  fearing  danger.  But  the  old  man  excuses  himself 
by  saying  that  he  was  cooking  his  food.  Heaven  knows 
what  the  queer  creature  may  eat,  for  often,  when  the  pipe 
is  smoking  heavily,  a  strange  and  queer  smell  can  be  smelled 
all  over  the  house." 

The  glass  doors  of  the  shop  creaked  in  opening.  The 
pastry  cook  hurried  into  the  front  room,  and  when  he  had 
nodded  to  the  figure  now  entering  he  threw  a  meaning 
glance  at  me.  I  understood  him  perfectly.  Who  else  could 
this  strange  guest  be,  but  the  steward  who  had  charge  of 
the  mysterious  house!  Imagine  a  thin  little  man  with  a 
face  the  color  of  a  mummy,  with  a  sharp  nose,  tight-set 
lips,  green  cat's  eyes,  and  a  crazy  smile ;  his  hair  dressed 
in  the  old-fashioned  style  with  a  high  toupet  and  a  bag 
at  the  back,  and  heavily  powdered.  He  wore  a  faded  old 
brown  coat  which  was  carefully  brushed,  gray  stockings, 
and  broad,  flat-toed  shoes  with  buckles.  And  imagine  fur- 
ther, that  in  spite  of  his  meagerness  this  little  person  is 
robustly  built,  with  huge  fists  and  long,  strong  fingers,  and 

137 


German  Mystery  Stories 

that  he  walks  to  the  shop  counter  with  a  strong,  firm  step, 
smiling  his  imbecile  smile,  and  whining  out :  "  A  couple  of 
candied  oranges — a  couple  of  macaroons — a  couple  of 
sugared  chestnuts — "  Picture  all  this  to  yourself  and  judge 
whether  I  had  not  sufficient  cause  to  imagine  a  mystery 
here. 

The  pastry  cook  gathered  up  the  wares  the  old  man  had 
demanded.  "  Weigh  it  out,  weigh  it  out,  honored  neigh- 
bor," moaned  the  strange  man,  as  he  drew  out  a  little  leath- 
ern bag  and  sought  in  it  for  his  money.  I  noticed  that  he 
paid  for  his  purchase  in  worn  old  coins,  some  of  which 
were  no  longer  in  use.  He  seemed  very  unhappy  and  mur- 
mured :  "  Sweet — sweet — it  must  all  be  sweet !  Well,  let  it 
be !  The  devil  has  pure  honey  for  his  bride — pure  honey !  " 

The  pastry  cook  smiled  at  me  and  then  spoke  to  the  old 
man.  "  You  do  not  seem  to  be  quite  well.  Yes,  yes,  old 
age,  old  age !  It  takes  the  strength  from  our  limbs."  The 
old  man's  expression  did  not  change,  but  his  voice  went 
up :  "  Old  age  ? — Old  age  ? — Lose  strength  ? — Grow  weak  ? 
— Oho !  "  And  with  this  he  clapped  his  hands  together  un- 
til the  joints  cracked,  and  sprang  high  up  into  the  air  until 
the  entire  shop  trembled  and  the  glass  vessels  on  the  walls 
and  counters  rattled  and  shook.  But  in  the  same  moment 
a  hideous  screaming  was  heard;  the  old  man  had  stepped 
on  his  black  dog,  which,  creeping  in  behind  him,  had  laid 
itself  at  his  feet  on  the  floor.  "  Devilish  beast — dog  of 
hell !  "  groaned  the  old  man  in  his  former  miserable  tone, 
opening  his  bag  and  giving  the  dog  a  large  macaroon. 
The  dog,  which  had  burst  out  into  a  cry  of  distress  that 
was  truly  human,  was  quiet  at  once,  sat  down  on  its 
haunches,  and  gnawed  at  the  macaroon  like  a  squirrel. 
When  it  had  finished  its  tidbit,  the  old  man  had  also  fin- 
ished the  packing  up  and  putting  away  of  his  purchases. 
"  Good  night,  honored  neighbor,"  he  spoke,  taking  the  hand 
of  the  pastry  cook  and  pressing  it  until  the  latter  cried  aloud 
in  pain.  "  The  weak  old  man  wishes  you  a  good  night, 
most  honorable  Sir  Neighbor,"  he  repeated,  and  then  walked 
from  the  shop,  followed  closely  by  his  black  dog.  The  old 

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Ernest   Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

man  did  not  seem  to  have  noticed  me  at  all.  I  was  quite 
dumfoundered  in  my  astonishment. 

"  There,  you  see,"  began  the  pastry  cook.  "  This  is  the 
way  he  acts  when  he  comes  in  here,  two  or  three  times  a 
month,  it  is.  But  I  can  get  nothing  out  of  him  except  the 
fact  that  he  was  a  former  valet  of  Count  S.,  that  he  is  now 
in  charge  of  this  house  here,  and  that  every  day — for  many 
years  now — he  expects  the  arrival  of  his  master's  family. 
My  brother  spoke  to  him  one  day  about  the  strange  noises 
at  night ;  but  he  answered  calmly,  '  Yes,  people  say  the 
ghosts  walk  about  in  the  house.  But  do  not  believe  it,  for 
it  is  not  true."  The  hour  was  now  come  when  fashion 
demanded  that  the  elegant  world  of  the  city  should  as- 
semble in  this  attractive  shop.  The  doors  opened  inces- 
santly, the  place  was  thronged,  and  I  could  ask  no  further 
questions. 

This  much  I  knew,  that  Count  P/s  information  about  the 
ownership  and  the  use  of  the  house  were  not  correct ;  also, 
that  the  old  steward,  in  spite  of  his  denial,  was  not  living 
alone  there,  and  that  some  mystery  was  hidden  behind  its 
discolored  walls.  How  could  I  combine  the  story  of  the 
strange  and  grewsome  singing  with  the  appearance  of  the 
beautiful  arm  at  the  window?  That  arm  could  not  be  part 
of  the  wrinkled  body  of  an  old  woman;  the  singing,  ac- 
cording to  the  pastry  cook's  story,  could  not  come  from 
the  throat  of  a  blooming  and  youthful  maiden.  I  decided 
in  favor  of  the  arm,  as  it  was  easy  to  explain  to  myself 
that  some  trick  of  acoustics  had  made  the  voice  sound 
sharp  and  old,  or  that  it  had  appeared  so  only  in  the  pastry 
cook's  fear-distorted  imagination.  Then  I  thought  of  the 
smoke,  the  strange  odors,  the  oddly  formed  crystal  bottle 
that  I  had  seen,  and  soon  the  vision  of  a  beautiful  crea- 
ture held  enthralled  by  fatal  magic  stood  as  if  alive  before 
my  mental  vision.  The  old  man  became  a  wizard  who, 
perhaps  quite  independently  of  the  family  he  served,  had 
set  up  his  devil's  kitchen  in  the  deserted  house.  My  im- 
agination had  begun  to  work,  and  in  my  dreams  that  night 
I  saw  clearly  the  hand  with  the  sparkling  diamond  on  its 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

finger,  the  arm  with  the  shining  bracelet.  From  out  thin, 
gray  mists  there  appeared  a  sweet  face  with  sadly  implor- 
ing blue  eyes,  then  the  entire  exquisite  figure  of  a  beautiful 
girl.  And  I  saw  that  what  I  had  thought  was  mist  was  the 
fine  steam  flowing  out  in  circles  from  a  crystal  bottle  held 
in  the  hands  of  the  vision. 

"  Oh,  fairest  creature  of  my  dreams,"  I  cried  in  rapture. 
"Reveal  to  me  where  thou  art,  what  it  is  that  enthralls 
thee.  Ah,  I  know  it!  It  is  black  magic  that  holds  thee 
captive — thou  art  the  unhappy  slave  of  that  malicious  devil 
who  wanders  about  brown-clad  and  bewigged  in  pastry 
shops,  scattering  their  wares  with  his  unholy  springing, 
and  feeding  his  demon  dog  on  macaroons,  after  they  have 
howled  out  a  Satanic  measure  in  five-eight  time.  Oh,  I 
know  it  all,  thou  fair  and  charming  vision.  The  diamond 
is  the  reflection  of  the  fire  of  thy  heart.  But  that  bracelet 
about  thine  arm  is  a  link  of  the  chain  which  the  brown-clad 
one  says  is  a  magnetic  chain.  Do  not  believe  it,  O  glori- 
ous one!  See  how  it  shines  in  the  blue  fire  from  the  retort. 
One  moment  more  and  thou  art  free.  And  now,  O  maiden, 
open  thy  rosebud  mouth  and  tell  me — "  In  this  moment  a 
gnarled  fist  leaped  over  my  shoulder  and  clutched  at  the 
crystal  bottle,  which  sprang  into  a  thousand  pieces  in  the 
air.  With  a  faint,  sad  moan,  the  charming  vision  faded 
into  the  blackness  of  the  night. 

When  morning  came  to  put  an  end  to  my  dreaming  I 
hurried  to  the  avenue  and  placed  myself  before  the  deserted 
house.  Heavy  blinds  were  drawn  before  the  upper  win- 
dows. The  street  was  still  quite  empty,  and  I  stepped  close 
to  the  windows  of  the  ground  floor  and  listened  and  lis- 
tened; but  I  heard  no  sound.  The  house  was  as  quiet  as  the 
grave.  The  business  of  the  day  began,  the  passers-by  be- 
came more  numerous,  and  I  was  obliged  to  go  on.  I  will 
not  weary  you  with  the  recital  of  how  for  many  days  I 
crept  about  the  house  at  that  hour,  but  without  discovering 
anything  of  interest.  None  of  my  questionings  could  re- 
veal anything  to  me,  and  the  beautiful  picture  of  my  vision 
began  finally  to  pale  and  fade  away. 

140 


Ernest   Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

At  last  as  I  passed,  late  one  evening,  I  saw  that  the  door 
of  the  deserted  house  was  half  open  and  the  brown-clad  old 
man  was  peeping  out.  I  stepped  quickly  to  his  side  with 
a  sudden  idea.  "  Does  not  Councilor  Binder  live  in  this 
house?"  Thus  I  asked  the  old  man,  pushing  him  before 
me  as  I  entered  the  dimly  lighted  vestibule.  The  guardian 
of  the  old  house  looked  at  me  with  his  piercing  eyes,  and 
answered  in  gentle,  slow  tones :  "  No,  he  does  not  live  here, 
he  never  has  lived  here,  he  never  will  live  here,  he  does 
not  live  anywhere  on  this  avenue.  But  people  say  the 
ghosts  walk  about  in  this  house.  Yet  I  can  assure  you 
that  it  is  not  true.  It  is  a  quiet,  a  pretty  house,  and  to- 
morrow the  gracious  Countess  S.  will  move  into  it. 
Good  night,  dear  gentleman."  With  these  words  the 
old  man  maneuvered  me  out  of  the  house  and  locked  the 
gate  behind  me.  I  heard  his  feet  drag  across  the  floor,  I 
heard  his  coughing  and  the  rattling  of  his  bunch  of  keys, 
and  I  heard  him  descend  some  steps.  Then  all  was  silent. 
During  the  short  time  that  I  had  been  in  the  house  I  had 
noticed  that  the  corridor  was  hung  with  old  tapestries  and 
furnished  like  a  drawing-room  with  large,  heavy  chairs 
in  red  damask. 

And  now,  as  if  called  into  life  by  my  entrance  into  the 
mysterious  house,  my  adventures  began.  The  following 
day,  as  I  walked  through  the  avenue  in  the  noon  hour, 
and  my  eyes  sought  the  deserted  house  as  usual,  I  saw 
something  glistening  in  the  last  window  of  the  upper  story. 
Coming  nearer  I  noticed  that  the  outer  blind  had  been 
quite  drawn  up  and  the  inner  curtain  slightly  opened. 
The  sparkle  of  a  diamond  met  my  eye.  O  kind  Heaven! 
The  face  of  my  dream  looked  at  me,  gently  imploring, 
from  above  the  rounded  arm  on  which  her  head  was  rest- 
ing. But  how  was  it  possible  to  stand  still  in  the  moving 
crowd  without  attracting  attention?  Suddenly  I  caught 
sight  of  the  benches  placed  in  the  gravel  walk  in  the  cen- 
ter of  the  avenue,  and  I  saw  that  one  of  them  was  directly 
opposite  the  house.  I  sprang  over  to  it,  and  leaning  over 
its  back,  I  could  stare  up  at  the  mysterious  window  un- 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

disturbed.  Yes,  it  was  she,  the  charming  maiden  of  my 
dream!  But  her  eye  did  not  seem  to  seek  me  as  I  had 
at  first  thought;  her  glance  was  cold  and  unfocused,  and 
had  it  not  been  for  an  occasional  motion  of  the  hand  and 
arm,  I  might  have  thought  that  I  was  looking  at  a  cleverly 
painted  picture. 

I  was  so  lost  in  my  adoration  of  the  mysterious  being 
in  the  window,  so  aroused  and  excited  throughout  all  my 
nerve  centers,  that  I  did  not  hear  the  shrill  voice  of  an 
Italian  street  hawker,  who  had  been  offering  me  his  wares 
for  some  time.  Finally  he  touched  me  on  the  arm;  I 
turned  hastily  and  commanded  him  to  let  me  alone.  But 
he  did  not  cease  his  entreaties,  asserting  that  he  had  earned 
'nothing  to-day,  and  begging  me  to  buy  some  small  trifle 
from  him.  Full  of  impatience  to  get  rid  of  him  I  put  my 
hand  in  my  pocket.  With  the  words :  "  I  have  more  beau- 
tiful things  here,"  he  opened  the  under  drawer  of  his  box 
and  held  out  to  me  a  little,  round  pocket  mirror.  In  it, 
as  he  held  it  up  before  my  face,  I  could  see  the  deserted 
house  behind  me,  the  window,  and  the  sweet  face  of  my 
vision  there. 

I  bought  the  little  mirror  at  once,  for  I  saw  that  it  would 
make  it  possible  for  me  to  sit  comfortably  and  inconspicu- 
ously, and  yet  watch  the  window.  The  longer  I  looked 
at  the  reflection  in  the  glass,  the  more  I  fell  captive  to  a 
weird  and  quite  indescribable  sensation,  which  I  might 
almost  call  a  waking  dream.  It  was  as  if  a  lethargy  had 
lamed  my  eyes,  holding  them  fastened  on  the  glass  beyond 
my  power  to  loosen  them.  Through  my  mind  there  rushed 
the  memory  of  an  old  nurse's  tale  of  my  earliest  childhood. 
When  my  nurse  was  taking  me  off  to  bed,  and  I  showed 
an  inclination  to  stand  peering  into  the  great  mirror  in  my 
father's  room,  she  would  tell  me  that  when  children  looked 
into  mirrors  in  the  night  time  they  would  see  a  strange, 
hideous  face  there,  and  their  eyes  would  be  frozen  so  that 
they  could  not  move  them  again.  The  thought  struck 
awe  to  my  soul,  but  I  could  not  resist  a  peep  at  the  mirror, 
I  was  so  curious  to  see  the  strange  face.  Once  I  did  be- 

142 


Ernest  Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

lieve  that  I  saw  two  hideous  glowing  eyes  shining  out  of 
the  mirror.  I  screamed  and  fell  down  in  a  swoon. 

All  these  foolish  memories  of  my  early  childhood  came 
trooping  back  to  me.  My  blood  ran  cold  through  my  veins. 
I  would  have  thrown  the  mirror  from  me,  but  I  could 
not.  And  now  at  last  the  beautiful  eyes  of  the  fair  vision 
looked  at  me,  her  glance  sought  mine  and  shone  deep  down 
into  my  heart.  The  terror  I  had  felt  left  me,  giving  way 
to  the  pleasurable  pain  of  sweetest  longing. 

"  You  have  a  pretty  little  mirror  there,"  said  a  voice  be- 
side me.  I  awoke  from  my  dream,  and  was  not  a  little  con- 
fused when  I  saw  smiling  faces  looking  at  me  from  either 
side.  Several  persons  had  sat  down  upon  my  bench,  and 
it  was  quite  certain  that  my  staring  into  the  window,  and 
my  probably  strange  expression,  had  afforded  them  great 
cause  for  amusement. 

"  You  have  a  pretty  little  mirror  there,"  repeated  the 
man,  as  I  did  not  answer  him.  His  glance  said  more,  and 
asked  without  words  the  reason  of  my  staring  so  oddly  into 
the  little  glass.  He  was  an  elderly  man,  neatly  dressed,  and 
his  voice  and  eyes  were  so  full  of  good  nature  that  I  could 
not  refuse  him  my  confidence.  I  told  him  that  I  had  been 
looking  in  the  mirror  at  the  picture  of  a  beautiful  maiden 
who  was  sitting  at  a  window  of  the  deserted  house.  I 
went  even  farther;  I  asked  the  old  man  if  he  had  not 
seen  the  fair  face  himself.  "  Over  there?  In  the  old  house 
— in  the  last  window?"  He  repeated  my  questions  in  a 
tone  of  surprise. 

"  Yes,  yes,"  I  exclaimed. 

The  old  man  smiled  and  answered :  "  Well,  well,  that  was 
a  strange  delusion.  My  old  eyes — thank  Heaven  for  my 
old  eyes !  Yes,  yes,  sir.  I  saw  a  pretty  face  in  the  window 
there,  with  my  own  eyes;  but  it  seemed  to  me  to  be  an 
excellently  well-painted  oil  portrait." 

I  turned  quickly  and  looked  toward  the  window;  there 
was  no  one  there,  and  the  blind  had  been  pulled  down. 
"  Yes,"  continued  the  old  man,  "  yes,  sir.  Now  it  is  too 
late  to  make  sure  of  the  matter,  for  just  now  the  servant, 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

who,  as  I  know,  lives  there  alone  in  the  house  of  the  Coun- 
tess S.,  took  the  picture  away  from  the  window  after  he 
had  dusted  it,  and  let  down  the  blinds." 

"  Was  it,  then,  surely  a  picture  ?  "  I  asked  again,  in  be- 
wilderment. 

"  You  can  trust  my  eyes,"  replied  the  old  man.  "  The 
optical  delusion  was  strengthened  by  your  seeing  only  the 
reflection  in  the  mirror.  And  when  I  was  in  your  years  it 
was  easy  enough  for  my  fancy  to  call  up  the  picture  of  a 
beautiful  maiden." 

"  But  the  hand  and  arm  moved,"  I  exclaimed.  "  Oh, 
yes,  they  moved,  indeed  they  moved,"  said  the  old  man 
smiling,  as  he  patted  me  on  the  shoulder.  Then  he  arose 
to  go,  and  bowing  politely,  closed  his  remarks  with  the 
words,  "  Beware  of  mirrors  which  can  lie  so  vividly. 
Your  obedient  servant,  sir." 

You  can  imagine  how  I  felt  when  I  saw  that  he  looked 
upon  me  as  a  foolish  fantast.  I  began  to  be  convinced 
that  the  old  man  was  right,  and  that  it  was  only  my  absurd 
imagination  which  insisted  on  raising  up  mysteries  about 
the  deserted  house. 

I  hurried  home  full  of  anger  and  disgust,  and  promised 
myself  that  I  would  not  think  of  the  mysterious  house,  and 
would  not  even  walk  through  the  avenue  for  several  days. 
I  kept  my  vow,  spending  my  days  working  at  my  desk, 
and  my  evenings  in  the  company  of  jovial  friends,  leaving 
myself  no  time  to  think  of  the  mysteries  which  so  enthralled 
me.  And  yet,  it  was  just  in  these  days  that  I  would  start 
up  out  of  my  sleep  as  if  awakened  by  a  touch,  only  to  find 
that  all  that  had  aroused  me  was  merely  the  thought  of 
that  mysterious  being  whom  I  had  seen  in  my  vision  and 
in  the  window  of  the  deserted  house.  Even  during  my 
work,  or  in  the  midst  of  a  lively  conversation  with  my 
friends,  I  felt  the  same  thought  shoot  through  me  like  an 
electric  current.  I  condemned  the  little  mirror  in  which 
I  had  seen  the  charming  picture  to  a  prosaic  daily  use. 
I  placed  it  on  my  dressing-table  that  I  might  bind  my 
cravat  before  it,  and  thus  it  happened  one  day,  when  I  was 

144 


Ernest   T header  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

about  to  utilize  it  for  this  important  business,  that  its  glass 
seemed  dull,  and  that  I  took  it  up  and  breathed  on  it  to 
rub  it  bright  again.  My  heart  seemed  to  stand  still,  every 
fiber  in  me  trembled  in  delightful  awe.  Yes,  that  is  all 
the  name  I  can  find  for  the  feeling  that  came  over  me, 
when,  as  my  breath  clouded  the  little  mirror,  I  saw  the 
beautiful  face  of  my  dreams  arise  and  smile  at  me  through 
blue  mists.  You  laugh  at  me?  You  look  upon  me  as  an 
incorrigible  dreamer?  Think  what  you  will  about  it — 
the  fair  face  looked  at  me  from  out  of  the  mirror!  But 
as  soon  as  the  clouding  vanished,  the  face  vanished  in  the 
brightened  glass. 

I  will  not  weary  you  with  a  detailed  recital  of  my  sensa- 
tions the  next  few  days.  I  will  only  say  that  I  repeated 
again  the  experiments  with  the  mirror,  sometimes  with 
success,  sometimes  without.  When  I  had  not  been  able 
to  call  up  the  vision,  I  would  run  to  the  deserted  house 
and  stare  up  at  the  windows;  but  I  saw  no  human  being 
anywhere  about  the  building.  I  lived  only  in  thoughts 
of  my  vision;  everything  else  seemed  indifferent  to  me. 
I  neglected  my  friends  and  my  studies.  The  tortures  in 
my  soul  passed  over  into,  or  rather  mingled  with,  physical 
sensations  which  frightened  me,  and  which  at  last  made 
me  fear  for  my  reason.  One  day,  after  an  unusually  severe 
attack,  I  put  my  little  mirror  in  my  pocket  and  hurried  to 
the  home  of  Dr.  K.,  who  was  noted  for  his  treatment  of 
those  diseases  of  the  mind  out  of  which  physical  diseases 
so  often  grow.  I  told  him  my  story;  I  did  not  conceal  the 
slightest  incident  from  him,  and  I  implored  him  to  save  me 
from  the  terrible  fate  which  seemed  to  threaten  me.  He 
listened  to  me  quietly,  but  I  read  astonishment  in  his  glance. 
Then  he  said :  "  The  danger  is  not  as  near  as  you  believe, 
and  I  think  that  I  may  say  that  it  can  be  easily  prevented. 
You  are  undergoing  an  unusual  psychical  disturbance,  be- 
yond a  doubt.  But  the  fact  that  you  understand  that  some 
evil  principle  seems  to  be  trying  to  influence  you,  gives 
you  a  weapon  by  which  you  can  combat  it.  Leave  your 
little  mirror  here  with  me,  and  force  yourself  to  take  up 

145 


German  Mystery  Stories 

with  some  work  which  will  afford  scope  for  all  your  mental 
energy.  Do  not  go  to  the  avenue ;  work  all  day,  from  early 
to  late,  then  take  a  long  walk,  and  spend  your  evenings  in 
the  company  of  your  friends.  Eat  heartily,  and  drink 
heavy,  nourishing  wines.  You  see  I  am  endeavoring  to 
combat  your  fixed  idea  of  the  face  in  the  window  of  the 
deserted  house  and  in  the  mirror,  by  diverting  your  mind 
to  other  things,  and  by  strengthening  your  body.  You 
yourself  must  help  me  in  this." 

I  was  very  reluctant  to  part  with  my  mirror.  The  phy- 
sician, who  had  already  taken  it,  seemed  to  notice  my  hesi- 
tation. He  breathed  upon  the  glass  and  holding  it  up  to 
me,  he  asked:  "  Do  you  see  anything?" 

"  Nothing  at  all,"  I  answered,  for  so  it  was. 

"  Now  breathe  on  the  glass  yourself,"  said  the  physician, 
laying  the  mirror  in  my  hands. 

I  did  as  he  requested.  There  was  the  vision  even  more 
clearly  than  ever  before. 

"  There  she  is!  "  I  cried  aloud. 

The  physician  looked  into  the  glass,  and  then  said:  "  I 
cannot  see  anything.  But  I  will  confess  to  you  that  when 
I  looked  into  this  glass,  a  queer  shiver  overcame  me,  pass- 
ing away  almost  at  once.  Now  do  it  once  more." 

I  breathed  upon  the  glass  again  and  the  physician  laid 
his  hand  upon  the  back  of  my  neck.  The  face  appeared 
again,  and  the  physician,  looking  into  the  mirror  over  my 
shoulder,  turned  pale.  Then  he  took  the  little  glass  from 
my  hands,  looked  at  it  attentively,  and  locked  it  into  his 
desk,  returning  to  me  after  a  few  moments'  silent  thought. 

"  Follow  my  instructions  strictly,"  he  said.  "  I  must  con- 
fess to  you  that  I  do  not  yet  understand  those  moments 
of  your  vision.  But  I  hope  to  be  able  to  tell  you  more 
about  it  very  soon." 

Difficult  as  it  was  to  me,  I  forced  myself  to  live  absolutely 
according  to  the  doctor's  orders.  I  soon  felt  the  benefit  of 
the  steady  work  and  the  nourishing  diet,  and  yet  I  was 
not  free  from  those  terrible  attacks,  which  would  come 
either  at  noon,  or,  more  intensely  still,  at  midnight.  Even 

146 


Ernest  Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

in  the  midst  of  a  merry  company,  in  the  enjoyment  of  wine 
and  song,  glowing  daggers  seemed  to  pierce  my  heart,  and 
all  the  strength  of  my  intellect  was  powerless  to  resist  their 
might  over  me.  I  was  obliged  to  retire,  and  could  not 
return  to  my  friends  until  I  had  recovered  from  my  con- 
dition of  lethargy.  It  was  in  one  of  these  attacks,  an 
unusually  strong  one,  that  such  an  irresistible,  mad  long- 
ing for  the  picture  of  my  dreams  came  over  me,  that  I  hur- 
ried out  into  the  street  and  ran  toward  the  mysterious 
house.  While  still  at  a  distance  from  it,  I  seemed  to  see 
lights  shining  out  through  the  fast-closed  blinds,  but  when 
I  came  nearer  I  saw  that  all  was  dark.  Crazy  with  my 
desire  I  rushed  to  the  door;  it  fell  back  before  the  pres- 
sure of  my  hand.  I  stood  in  the  dimly  lighted  vestibule, 
enveloped  in  a  heavy,  close  atmosphere.  My  heart  beat  in 
strange  fear  and  impatience.  Then  suddenly  a  long,  sharp 
tone,  as  from  a  woman's  throat,  shrilled  through  the  house. 
I  know  not  how  it  happened  that  I  found  myself  sud- 
denly in  a  great  hall  brilliantly  lighted  and  furnished  in 
old-fashioned  magnificence  of  golden  chairs  and  strange 
Japanese  ornaments.  Strongly  perfumed  incense  arose  in 
blue  clouds  about  me.  "  Welcome — welcome,  sweet  bride- 
groom! the  hour  has  come,  our  bridal  hour!"  I  heard 
these  words  in  a  woman's  voice,  and  as  little  as  I  can 
tell,  how  I  came  into  the  room,  just  so  little  do  I  know 
how  it  happened  that  suddenly  a  tall,  youthful  figure,  richly 
dressed,  seemed  to  arise  from  the  blue  mists.  With  the 
repeated  shrill  cry:  "Welcome,  sweet  bridegroom!"  she 
came  toward  me  with  outstretched  arms — and  a  yellow 
face,  distorted  with  age  and  madness,  stared  into  mine!  I 
fell  back  in  terror,  but  the  fiery,  piercing  glance  of  her 
eyes,  like  the  eyes  of  a  snake,  seemed  to  hold  me  spell- 
bound. I  did  not  seem  able  to  turn  my  eyes  from  this 
terrible  old  woman,  I  could  not  move  another  step.  She 
came  still  nearer,  and  it  seemed  to  me  suddenly  as  if 
her  hideous  face  were  only  a  thin  mask,  beneath  which 
I  saw  the  features  of  the  beautiful  maiden  of  my  vision. 
Already  I  felt  the  touch  of  her  hands,  when  suddenly  she 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

fell  at  my  feet  with  a  loud  scream,  and  a  voice  behind  me 
cried: 

"  Oho,  is  the  devil  playing  his  tricks  with  your  grace 
again?  To  bed,  to  bed,  your  grace.  Else  there  will  be 
blows,  mighty  blows!" 

I  turned  quickly  and  saw  the  old  steward  in  his  night 
clothes,  swinging  a  whip  above  his  head.  He  was  about 
to  strike  the  screaming  figure  at  my  feet  when  I  caught 
at  his  arm.  But  he  shook  me  from  him,  exclaiming:  "  The 
devil,  sir!  That  old  Satan  would  have  murdered  you  if  I 
had  not  come  to  your  aid.  Get  away  from  here  at  once !  " 

I  rushed  from  the  hall,  and  sought  in  vain  in  the  dark- 
ness for  the  door  of  the  house.  Behind  me  I  heard  the  hiss- 
ing blows  of  the  whip  and  the  old  woman's  screams.  I 
drew  breath  to  call  aloud  for  help,  when  suddenly  the 
ground  gave  way  under  my  feet ;  I  fell  down  a  short  flight 
"of  stairs,  bringing  up  with  such  force  against  a  door  at 
the  bottom  that  it  sprang  open,  and  I  measured  my  length 
on  the  floor  of  a  small  room.  From  the  hastily  vacated 
bed,  and  from  the  familiar  brown  coat  hanging  over  a 
chair,  I  saw  that  I  was  in  the  bedchamber  of  the  old  stew- 
ard. There  was  a  trampling  on  the  stair,  and  the  old  man 
himself  entered  hastily,  throwing  himself  at  my  feet.  "  By 
all  the  saints,  sir,"  he  entreated  with  folded  hands,  "  who- 
ever you  may  be,  and  however  her  grace,  that  old  Satan 
of  a  witch  has  managed  to  entice  you  to  this  house,  do 
not  speak  to  anyone  of  what  has  happened  here.  It  will 
cost  me  my  position.  Her  crazy  excellency  has  been  pun- 
ished, and  is  bound  fast  in  her  bed.  Sleep  well,  good  sir, 
sleep  softly  and  sweetly.  It  is  a  warm  and  beautiful  July 
night.  There  is  no  moon,  but  the  stars  shine  brightly. 
A  quiet  good  night  to  you."  While  talking,  the  old  man 
had  taken  up  a  lamp,  had  led  me  out  of  the  basement, 
pushed  me  out  of  the  house  door,  and  locked  it  behind  me. 
I  hurried  home  quite  bewildered,  and  you  can  imagine  that 
I  was  too  much  confused  by  the  grewsome  secret  to  be 
able  to  form  any  explanation  of  it  in  my  own  mind  for 
the  first  few  days.  Only  this  much  was  certain,  that  I  was 

148 


Ernest   Theodor  Amadcus  Hoffmann 

now  free  from  the  evil  spell  that  had  held  me  captive  so 
long.  All  my  longing  for  the  magic  vision  in  the  mirror 
had  disappeared,  and  the  memory  of  the  scene  in  the  de- 
serted house  was  like  the  recollection  of  an  unexpected 
visit  to  a  madhouse.  It  was  evident  beyond  a  doubt  that 
the  steward  was  the  tyrannical  guardian  of  a  crazy  woman 
of  noble  birth,  whose  condition  was  to  be  hidden  from  the 
world.  But  the  mirror?  and  all  the  other  magic?  Listen, 
and  I  will  tell  you  more  about  it. 

Some  few  days  later  I  came  upon  Count  P.  at  an  evening 
entertainment.  He  drew  me  to  one  side  and  said,  with  a 
smile,  "  Do  you  know  that  the  secrets  of  our  deserted  house 
are  beginning  to  be  revealed?"  I  listened  with  interest; 
but  before  the  count  could  say  more  the  doors  of  the  dining- 
room  were  thrown  open,  and  the  company  proceeded  to 
the  table.  Quite  lost  in  thought  at  the  words  I  had  just 
heard,  I  had  given  a  young  lady  my  arm,  and  had  taken 
my  place  mechanically  in  the  ceremonious  procession.  I 
led  my  companion  to  the  seats  arranged  for  us,  and  then 
turned  to  look  at  her  for  the  first  time.  The  vision  of  my 
mirror  stood  before  me,  feature  for  feature,  there  was  no 
deception  possible !  I  trembled  to  my  innermost  heart,  as 
you  can  imagine ;  but  I  discovered  that  there  was  not  the 
slightest  echo  even,  in  my  heart,  of  the  mad  desire  which 
had  ruled  me  so  entirely  when  my  breath  drew  out  the 
magic  picture  from  the  glass.  My  astonishment,  or  rather 
my  terror,  must  have  been  apparent  in  my  eyes.  The  girl 
looked  at  me  in  such  surprise  that  I  endeavored  to  control 
myself  sufficiently  to  remark  that  I  must  have  met  her 
somewhere  before.  Her  short  answer,  to  the  effect  that  this 
could  hardly  be  possible,  as  she  had  come  to  the  city  only 
yesterday  for  the  first  time  in  her  life,  bewildered  me  still 
more  and  threw  me  into  an  awkward  silence.  The  sweet 
glance  from  her  gentle  eyes  brought  back  my  courage, 
and  I  began  a  tentative  exploring  of  this  new  companion's 
mind.  I  found  that  I  had  before  me  a  sweet  and  delicate 
being,  suffering  from  some  psychic  trouble.  At  a  particu- 
larly merry  turn  of  the  conversation,  when  I  would  throw 

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German  Mystery  Stories 

in  a  daring  word  like  a  dash  of  pepper,  she  would  smile, 
but  her  smile  was  pained,  as  if  a  wound  had  been  touched. 
"  You  are  not  very  merry  to-night,  countess.  Was  it  the 
visit  this  morning?  "  An  officer  sitting  near  us  had  spoken 
these  words  to  my  companion,  but  before  he  could  finish 
his  remark  his  neighbor  had  grasped  him  by  the  arm  and 
whispered  something  in  his  ear,  while  a  lady  at  the  other 
side  of  the  table,  with  glowing  cheeks  and  angry  eyes,  began 
to  talk  loudly  of  the  opera  she  had  heard  last  evening. 
Tears  came  to  the  eyes  of  the  girl  sitting  beside  me.  "  Am 
I  not  foolish  ?  "  She  turned  to  me.  A  few  moments  before 
she  had  complained  of  headache.  "  Merely  the  usual  evi- 
dences of  a  nervous  headache,"  I  answered  in  an  easy  tone, 
"  and  there  is  nothing  better  for  it  than  the  merry  spirit 
which  bubbles  in  the  foam  of  this  poet's  nectar."  With 
these  words  I  filled  her  champagne  glass,  and  she  sipped 
at  it  as  she  threw  me  a  look  of  gratitude.  Her  mood 
brightened,  and  all  would  have  been  well  had  I  not  touched 
a  glass  before  me  with  unexpected  strength,  arousing  from 
it  a  shrill,  high  tone.  My  companion  grew  deadly  pale, 
and  I  myself  felt  a  sudden  shiver,  for  the  sound  had  exactly 
the  tone  of  the  mad  woman's  voice  in  the  deserted  house. 

While  we  were  drinking  coffee  I  made  an  opportunity  to 
get  to  the  side  of  Count  P.  He  understood  the  reason  for 
my  movement.  "  Do  you  know  that  your  neighbor  is 
Countess  Edwina  S.  ?  And  do  you  know  also  that  it  is  her 
mother's  sister  who  lives  in  the  deserted  house,  incurably 
mad  for  many  years?  This  morning  both  mother  and 
daughter  went  to  see  the  unfortunate  woman.  The  old 
steward,  the  only  person  who  is  able  to  control  the  countess 
in  her  outbreaks,  is  seriously  ill,  and  they  say  that  the  sister 
has  finally  revealed  the  secret  to  Dr.  K.  This  eminent 
physician  will  endeavor  to  cure  the  patient,  or  if  this  is  not 
possible,  at  least  to  prevent  her  terrible  outbreaks  of  mania. 
This  is  all  that  I  know  yet." 

Others  joined  us  and  we  were  obliged  to  change  the  sub- 
ject. Dr.  K.  was  the  physician  to  whom  I  had  turned  in 
my  own  anxiety,  and  you  can  well  imagine  that  I  hurried 

150 


Ernest   Thcodor  Amadcus  Hoffmann 

to  him  as  soon  as  I  was  free,  and  told  him  all  that  had 
happened  to  me  in  the  last  days.  I  asked  him  to  tell  me 
as  much  as  he  could  about  the  mad  woman,  for  my  own 
peace  of  mind ;  and  this  is  what  I  learned  from  him  under 
promise  of  secrecy. 

"  Angelica,  Countess  Z.,"  thus  the  doctor  began,  "  had 
already  passed  her  thirtieth  year,  but  was  still  in  full  pos- 
session of  great  beauty,  when  Count  S.,  although  much 
younger  than  she,  became  so  fascinated  by  her  charm  that 
he  wooed  her  with  ardent  devotion  and  followed  her  to 
her  father's  home  to  try  his  luck  there.  But  scarcely  had 
the  count  entered  the  house,  scarcely  had  he  caught  sight 
of  Angelica's  younger  sister,  Gabrielle,  when  he  awoke  as 
from  a  dream.  The  elder  sister  appeared  faded  and  col- 
orless beside  Gabrielle,  whose  beauty  and  charm  so  en- 
thralled the  count  that  he  begged  her  hand  of  her  father. 
Count  Z.  gave  his  consent  easily,  as  there  was  no  doubt 
of  Gabrielle's  feelings  toward  her  suitor.  Angelica  did  not 
show  the  slightest  anger  at  her  lover's  faithlessness.  '  He 
believes  that  he  has  forsaken  me,  the  foolish  boy !  He  does 
not  perceive  that  he  was  but  my  toy,  a  toy  of  which  I  had 
tired.'  Thus  she  spoke  in  proud  scorn,  and  not  a  look 
or  an  action  on  her  part  belied  her  words.  But  after  the 
ceremonious  betrothal  of  Gabrielle  to  Count  S.,  Angelica 
was  seldom  seen  by  the  members  of  her  family.  She  did  not 
appear  at  the  dinner  table,  and  it  was  said  that  she  spent 
most  of  her  time  walking  alone  in  the  neighboring  wood. 

"  A  strange  occurrence  disturbed  the  monotonous  quiet  of 
life  in  the  castle.  The  hunters  of  Count  Z.,  assisted  by 
peasants  from  the  village,  had  captured  a  band  of  gypsies 
who  were  accused  of  several  robberies  and  murders  which 
had  happened  recently  in  the  neighborhood.  The  men 
were  brought  to  the  castle  courtyard,  fettered  together  on 
a  long  chain,  while  the  women  and  children  were  packed 
on  a  cart.  Noticeable  among  the  last  was  a  tall,  haggard 
old  woman  of  terrifying  aspect,  wrapped  from  head  to  foot 
in  a  red  shawl.  She  stood  upright  in  the  cart,  and  in  an 
imperious  tone  demanded  that  she  should  be  allowed  to 


German  Mystery  Stories 

descend.  The  guards  were  so  awed  by  her  manner  and 
appearance  that  they  obeyed  her  at  once. 

"  Count  Z.  came  down  to  the  courtyard  and  commanded 
that  the  gang  should  be  placed  in  the  prisons  under  the 
castle.  Suddenly  Countess  Angelica  rushed  out  of  the 
door,  her  hair  all  loose,  fear  and  anxiety  in  her  pale  face. 
Throwing  herself  on  her  knees,  she  cried  in  a  piercing 
voice,  '  Let  these  people  go !  Let  these  people  go !  They 
are  innocent!  Father,  let  these  people  go!  If  you  shed 
one  drop  of  their  blood  I  will  pierce  my  heart  with  this 
knife ! '  The  countess  swung  a  shining  knife  in  the  air  and 
then  sank  swooning  to  the  ground.  '  Yes,  my  beautiful 
darling — my  golden  child — I  knew  you  would  not  let  them 
hurt  us/  shrilled  the  old  woman  in  red.  She  cowered  be- 
side the  countess  and  pressed  disgusting  kisses  to  her  face 
and  breast,  murmuring  crazy  words.  She  took  from  out 
the  recesses  of  her  shawl  a  little  vial  in  which  a  tiny  gold- 
fish seemed  to  swim  in  some  silver-clear  liquid.  She  held 
the  vial  to  the  countess's  heart.  The  latter  regained  con- 
sciousness immediately.  When  her  eyes  fell  on  the  gypsy 
woman,  she  sprang  up,  clasped  the  old  creature  ardently 
in  her  arms,  and  hurried  with  her  into  the  castle. 

"  Count  Z.,  Gabrielle,  and  her  lover,  who  had  come  out 
during  this  scene,  watched  it  in  astonished  awe.  The 
gypsies  appeared  quite  indifferent.  They  were  loosed  from 
their  chains  and  taken  separately  to  the  prisons.  Next 
morning  Count  Z.  called  the  villagers  together.  The 
gypsies  were  led  before  them  and  the  count  announced 
that  he  had  found  them  to  be  innocent  of  the  crimes  of 
which  they  were  accused,  and  that  he  would  grant  them 
free  passage  through  his  domains.  To  the  astonishment  of 
all  present,  their  fetters  were  struck  off  and  they  were  set 
at  liberty.  The  red-shawled  woman  was  not  among  them. 
It  was  whispered  that  the  gypsy  captain,  recognizable 
from  the  golden  chain  about  his  neck  and  the  red  feather 
in  his  high  Spanish  hat,  had  paid  a  secret  visit  to  the 
count's  room  the  night  before.  But  it  was  discovered,  a 
.short  time  after  the  release  of  the  gypsies,  that  they  were 

152 


Ernest  Theodor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

indeed  guiltless  of  the  robberies  and  murders  that  had 
disturbed  the  district. 

"  The  date  set  for  Gabrielle's  wedding  approached.  One 
day,  to  her  great  astonishment,  she  saw  several  large 
wagons  in  the  courtyard  being  packed  high  with  furniture, 
clothing,  linen,  with  everything  necessary  for  a  complete 
household  outfit.  The  wagons  were  driven  away,  and  the 
following  day  Count  Z.  explained  that,  for  many  reasons, 
he  had  thought  it  best  to  grant  Angelica's  odd  request 
that  she  be  allowed  to  set  up  her  own  establishment  in  his 
house  in  X.  He  had  given  the  house  to  her,  and  had 
promised  her  that  no  member  of  the  family,  not  even  he 
himself,  should  enter  it  without  her  express  permission. 
He  added  also,  that,  at  her  urgent  request,  he  had  per- 
mitted his  own  valet  to  accompany  her,  to  take  charge 
of  her  household. 

"  When  the  wedding  festivities  were  over,  Count  S.  and 
his  bride  departed  for  their  home,  where  they  spent  a  year 
in  cloudless  happiness.  Then  the  count's  health  failed  mys- 
teriously. It  was  as  if  some  secret  sorrow  gnawed  at  his 
vitals,  robbing  him  of  joy  and  strength.  All  efforts  of 
his  young  wife  to  discover  the  source  of  his  trouble  were 
fruitless.  At  last,  when  the  constantly  recurring  fainting 
spells  threatened  to  endanger  his  very  life,  he  yielded  to 
the  entreaties  of  his  physicians  and  left  his  home,  ostensi- 
bly for  Pisa.  His  young  wife  was  prevented  from  accom- 
panying him  by  the  delicate  condition  of  her  own  health. 

"  And  now,"  said  the  doctor,  "  the  information  given  me 
by  Countess  S.  became,  from  this  point  on,  so  rhapsodical 
that  a  keen  observer  only  could  guess  at  the  true  coherence 
of  the  story.  Her  baby,  a  daughter,  born  during  her  hus- 
band's absence,  was  spirited  away  from  the  house,  and  all 
search  for  it  was  fruitless.  Her  grief  at  this  loss  deepened 
to  despair,  when  she  received  a  message  from  her  father 
stating  that  her  husband,  whom  all  believed  to  be  in  Pisa, 
had  been  found  dying  of  heart  trouble  in  Angelica's  home 
in  X.,  and  that  Angelica  herself  had  become  a  danger- 
ous maniac.  The  old  count  added  that  all  this  horror  had 

153 


German  Mystery  Stories 

so  shaken  his  own  nerves  that  he  feared  he  would  not 
long  survive  it. 

"  As  soon  as  Gabrielle  was  able  to  leave  her  bed,  she 
hurried  to  her  father's  castle.  One  night,  prevented  from 
sleeping  by  visions  of  the  loved  ones  she  had  lost,  she 
seemed  to  hear  a  faint  crying,  like  that  of  an  infant,  be- 
fore the  door  of  her  chamber.  Lighting  her  candle  she 
opened  the  door.  Great  Heaven!  there  cowered  the  old 
gypsy  woman,  wrapped  in  her  red  shawl,  staring  up  at  her 
with  eyes  that  seemed  already  glazing  in  death.  In  her 
arms  she  held  a  little  child,  whose  crying  had  aroused  the 
countess.  Gabrielle's  heart  beat  high  with  joy — it  was  her 
child — her  lost  daughter!  She  snatched  the  infant  from 
the  gypsy's  arms,  just  as  the  woman  fell  at  her  feet  life- 
less. The  countess's  screams  awoke  the  house,  but  the 
gypsy  was  quite  dead  and  no  effort  to  revive  her  met  with 
success. 

"  The  old  count  hurried  to  X.  to  endeavor  to  discover 
something  that  would  throw  light  upon  the  mysterious  dis- 
appearance and  reappearance  of  the  child.  Angelica's 
madness  had  frightened  away  all  her  female  servants ;  the 
valet  alone  remained  with  her.  She  appeared  at  first  to 
have  become  quite  calm  and  sensible.  But  when  the 
count  told  her  the  story  of  Gabrielle's  child  she  clapped 
her  hands  and  laughed  aloud,  crying :  '  Did  the  little  dar- 
ling arrive  ?  You  buried  her,  you  say  ?  How  the  feathers 
of  the  gold  pheasant  shine  in  the  sun!  Have  you  seen 
the  green  lion  with  the  fiery  blue  eyes  ?  *  Horrified  the 
count  perceived  that  Angelica's  mind  was  gone  beyond 
a  doubt,  and  he  resolved  to  take  her  back  with  him  to 
his  estates,  in  spite  of  the  warnings  of  his  old  valet.  At 
the  mere  suggestion  of  removing  her  from  the  house 
Angelica's  ravings  increased  to  such  an  extent  as  to  en- 
danger her  own  life  and  that  of  the  others. 

"  When  a  lucid  interval  came  again  Angelica  entreated 
her  father,  with  many  tears,  to  let  her  live  and  die  in  the 
house  she  had  chosen.  Touched  by  her  terrible  trouble  he 
granted  her  request,  although  he  believed  the  confession 

154 


Ernest   The  odor  Amadeus  Hoffmann 

which  slipped  from  her  lips  during  this  scene  to  be  a 
fantasy  of  her  madness.  She  told  him  that  Count  S.  had 
returned  to  her  arms,  and  that  the  child  which  the  gypsy 
had  taken  to  her  father's  house  was  the  fruit  of  their 
love.  The  rumor  went  abroad  in  the  city  that  Count  Z. 
had  taken  the  unfortunate  woman  to  his  home ;  but  the 
truth  was  that  she  remained  hidden  in  the  deserted  house 
under  the  care  of  the  valet.  Count  Z.  died  a  short  time 
ago,  and  Countess  Gabrielle  came  here  with  her  daugh- 
ter Edwina  to  arrange  some%  family  affairs.  It  was  not 
possible  for  her  to  avoid  seeing  her  unfortunate  sister. 
Strange  things  must  have  happened  during  this  visit,  but 
the  countess  has 'not  confided  anything  to  me,  saying 
merely  that  she  had  found  it  necessary  to  take  the  mad 
woman  away  from  the  old  valet.  It  had  been  discovered 
that  he  had  controlled  her  outbreaks  by  means  of  force 
and  physical  cruelty;  and  that  also,  allured  by  Angelica's 
assertions  that  she  could  make  gold,  he  had  allowed  him- 
self to  assist  her  in  her  weird  operations. 

"  It  would  be  quite  unnecessary,"  thus  the  physician 
ended  his  story,  "  to  say  anything  more  to  you  about  the 
deeper  inward  relationship  of  all  these  strange  things.  It 
is  clear  to  my  mind  that  it  was  you  who  brought  about 
the  catastrophe,  a  catastrophe  which  will  mean  recovery 
or  speedy  death  for  the  sick  woman.  And  now  I  will  con- 
fess to  you  that  I  was  not  a  little  alarmed,  horrified  even, 
to  discover  that — when  I  had  set  myself  in  magnetic  com- 
munication with  you  by  placing  my  hand  on  your  neck — 
I  could  see  the  picture  in  the  mirror  with  my  own  eyes. 
We  both  know  now  that  the  reflection  in  the  glass  was 
the  face  of  Countess  Edwina." 

I  repeat  Dr.  K.'s  words  in  saying  that,  to  my  mind  also, 
there  is  no  further  comment  that  can  be  made  on  all  these 
facts.  I  consider  it  equally  unnecessary  to  discuss  at  any 
further  length  with  you  now  the  mysterious  relationship 
between  Angelica,  Edwina,  the  old  valet,  and  myself — a 
relationship  which  seemed  the  work  of  a  malicious  demon 
who  was  playing  his  tricks  with  us.  I  will  add  only  that 

155 


German  Mystery  Stories 

I  left  the  city  soon  after  all  these  events,  driven  from  the 
place  by  an  oppression  I  could  not  shake  off.  The  un- 
canny sensation  left  me  suddenly  a  month  or  so  later, 
giving  way  to  a  feeling  of  intense  relief  that  flowed  through 
all  my  veins  with  the  warmth  of  an  electric  current.  I 
am  convinced  that  this  change  within  me  came  about  in 
the  moment  when  the  mad  woman  died. 

Thus  did  Theodore  end  his  narrative.  His  friends  had 
much  to  say  about  his  strange  adventure,  and  they  agreed 
with  him  that  the  odd  and  unusual,  and  the  truly  mar- 
velous as  well,  were  mingled  in  a  strange  and  grewsome 
manner  in  his  story.  When  they  parted  for  the  night, 
Franz  shook  Theodore's  hand  gently,  as  he  said  with  a 
smile :  "  Good  night,  you  Spallanzani  bat,  you." 


156 


Anton  Chekhoff 

The  Safety  Match 

()N  the  morning  of  October  6,  1885,  in  the  office  of  the 

Inspector  of  Police  of  the  second  division  of  S 

District,  there  appeared  a  respectably  dressed  young  man, 
who  announced  that  his  master,  Marcus  Ivanovitch  Klau- 
soff,  a  retired  officer  of  the  Horse  Guards,  separated  from 
his  wife,  had  been  murdered.  While  making  this  an- 
nouncement the  young  man  was  white  and  terribly  agi- 
tated. His  hands  trembled  and  his  eyes  were  full  of 
terror. 

"  Whom  have  I  the  honor  of  addressing?  "  asked  the  in- 
spector. 

"  Psyekoff,  Lieutenant  KlausofFs  agent ;  agriculturist 
and  mechanician !  " 

The  inspector  and  his  deputy,  on  visiting  the  scene  of 
the  occurrence  in  company  with  Psyekoff,  found  the  fol- 
lowing: Near  the  wing  in  which  Klausoff  had  lived  was 
gathered  a  dense  crowd.  The  news  of  the  murder  had 
sped  swift  as  lightning  through  the  neighborhood,  and  the 
peasantry,  thanks  to  the  fact  that  the  day  was  a  holiday, 
had  hurried  together  from  all  the  neighboring  villages. 
There  was  much  commotion  and  talk.  Here  and  there, 
pale,  tear-stained  faces  were  seen.  The  door  of  Klausoff  s 
bedroom  was  found  locked.  The  key  was  inside. 

"  It  is  quite  clear  that  the  scoundrels  got  in  by  the  win- 
dow !  "  said  Psyekoff  as  they  examined  the  door. 

They  went  to  the  garden,  into  which  the  bedroom  win- 
dow opened.  The  window  looked  dark  and  ominous.  It 
was  covered  by  a  faded  green  curtain.  One  corner  of  the 
curtain  was  slightly  turned  up,  which  made  it  possible  to 
look  into  the  bedroom. 

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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  Did  any  of  you  look  into  the  window  ?  "  asked  the  in- 
spector. 

"  Certainly  not,  your  worship !  "  answered  Ephraim,  the 
gardener,  a  little  gray-haired  old  man,  who  looked  like  a 
retired  sergeant.  "Who's  going  to  look  in,  if  all  their 
bones  are  shaking?" 

"  Ah,  Marcus  Ivanovitch,  Marcus  Ivanovitch ! "  sighed 
the  inspector,  looking  at  the  window,  "  I  told  you  you 
would  come  to  a  bad  end!  I  told  the  dear  man,  but  he 
wouldn't  listen  !  Dissipation  doesn't  bring  any  good !  " 

"  Thanks  to  Ephraim,"  said  Psyekoff ;  "  but  for  him,  we 
would  never  have  guessed.  He  was  the  first  to  guess  that 
something  was  wrong.  He  comes  to  me  this  morning, 
and  says:  'Why  is  the  master  so  long  getting  up?  He 
hasn't  left  his  bedroom  for  a  whole  week ! '  The  moment 
he  said  that,  it  was  just  as  if  some  one  had  hit  me  with 
an  ax.  The  thought  flashed  through  my  mind,  '  We 
haven't  had  a  sight  of  him  since  last  Saturday,  and  to-day 
is  Sunday  ' !  Seven  whole  days — not  a  doubt  of  it !  " 

"  Ay,  poor  fellow !  "  again  sighed  the  inspector.  "  He 
was  a  clever  fellow,  finely  educated,  and  kind-hearted  at 
that !  And  in  society,  nobody  could  touch  him !  But  he 
was  a  waster,  God  rest  his  soul !  I  was  prepared  for  any- 
thing since  he  refused  to  live  with  Olga  Petrovna.  Poor 
thing,  a  good  wife,  but  a  sharp  tongue !  Stephen !  "  the 
inspector  called  to  one  of  his  deputies,  "  go  over  to  my 
house  this  minute,  and  send  Andrew  to  the  captain  to 
lodge  an  information  with  him!  Tell  him  that  Marcus 
Ivanovitch  has  been  murdered.  And  run  over  to  the  or- 
derly; why  should  he  sit  there,  kicking  his  heels?  Let 
him  come  here!  And  go  as  fast  as  you  can  to  the  ex- 
amining magistrate,  Nicholas  Yermolaiyevitch.  Tell  him 
to  come  over  here!  Wait;  I'll  write  him  a  note! " 

The  inspector  posted  sentinels  around  the  wing,  wrote 
a  letter  to  the  examining  magistrate,  and  then  went  over 
to  the  director's  for  a  glass  of  tea.  Ten  minutes  later 
he  was  sitting  on  a  stool,  carefully  nibbling  a  lump  of 
sugar,  and  swallowing  the  scalding  tea. 

158 


Anton  Chekhoff 

"  There  you  are !  "  he  was  saying  to  Psyekoff ;  "  there 
you  are !  A  noble  by  birth !  a  rich  man — a  favorite  of  the 
gods,  you  may  say,  as  Pushkin  has  it,  and  what  did  he 
come  to?  He  drank  and  dissipated  and—there  you  are — 
he's  murdered." 

After  a  couple  of  hours  the  examining  magistrate  drove 
up.  Nicholas  Yermolaryevitch  Chubikoff — for  that  was  the 
magistrate's  name — was  a  tall,  fleshy  old  man  of  sixty, 
who  had  been  wrestling  with  the  duties  of  his  office  for  a 
quarter  of  a  century.  Everybody  in  the  district  knew  him 
as  an  honest  man,  wise,  energetic,  and  in  love  with  his 
work.  He  was  accompanied  to  the  scene  of  the  murder 
by  his  inveterate  companion,  fellow  worker,  and  secretary, 
Dukovski,  a  tall  young  fellow  of  twenty-six. 

"  Is  it  possible,  gentlemen  ?  "  cried  Chubikoff,  entering 
Psyekoff's  room,  and  quickly  shaking  hands  with  every- 
one. Is  it  possible?  Marcus  Ivanovitch?  Murdered? 
No !  It  is  impossible !  Im-poss-i-ble  !  " 

"  Go  in  there !  "  sighed  the  inspector. 

"  Lord,  have  mercy  on  us !  Only  last  Friday  I  saw  him 
at  the  fair  in  Farabankoff.  I  had  a  drink  of  vodka  with 
him,  save  the  mark !  " 

"  Go  in  there ! "  again  sighed  the  inspector. 

They  sighed,  uttered  exclamations  of  horror,  drank  a 
glass  of  tea  each,  and  went  to  the  wing. 

"  Get  back !  "  the  orderly  cried  to  the  peasants. 

Going  to  the  wing,  the  examining  magistrate  began  his1' 
work  by  examining  the  bedroom  door.  The  door  proved 
to  be  of  pine,  painted  yellow,  and  was  uninjured.  Nothing 
was  found  which  could  serve  as  a  clew.  They  had  to  break 
in  the  door. 

"  Everyone  not  here  on  business  is  requested  to  keep 
away !  "  said  the  magistrate,  when,  after  much  hammering 
and  shaking,  the  door  yielded  to  ax  and  chisel.  "  I  re- 
quest this,  in  the  interest  of  the  investigation.  Orderly, 
don't  let  anyone  in !  " 

Chubikoff,  his  assistant,  and  the  inspector  opened  the 
door,  and  hesitatingly,  one  after  the  other,  entered  the 

159 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

room.  Their  eyes  met  the  following-  sight :  Beside  the  sin- 
gle window  stood  the  big  wooden  bed  with  a  huge  feather 
mattress.  On  the  crumpled  feather  bed  lay  a  tumbled, 
crumpled  quilt.  The  pillow,  in  a  cotton  pillow-case,  also 
much  crumpled,  was  dragging  on  the  floor.  On  the  table 
beside  the  bed  lay  a  silver  watch  and  a  silver  twenty- 
kopeck  piece.  Beside  them  lay  some  sulphur  matches. 
Beside  the  bed,  the  little  table,  and  the  single  chair,  there 
was  no  furniture  in  the  room.  Looking  under  the  bed, 
the  inspector  saw  a  couple  of  dozen  empty  bottles,  an  old 
straw  hat,  and  a  quart  of  vodka.  Under  the  table  lay  one 
top  boot,  covered  with  dust.  Casting  a  glance  around  the 
room,  the  magistrate  frowned  and  grew  red  in  the  face. 

"  Scoundrels !  "  he  muttered,  clenching  his  fists. 

"  And  where  is  Marcus  Ivanovitch  ?  "  asked  Dukovski 
in  a  low  voice. 

"  Mind  your  own  business ! "  Chubikoff  answered 
roughly.  "  Be  good  enough  to  examine  the  floor !  This 
is  not  the  first  case  of  the  kind  I  have  had  to  deal  with ! 
Eugraph  Kuzmitch,"  he  said,  turning  to  the  inspector, 
and  lowering  his  voice,  "  in  1870  I  had  another  case  like 
this.  But  you  must  remember  it — the  murder  of  the  mer- 
chant Portraitoff.  It  was  just  the  same  there.  The  scoun- 
drels murdered  him,  and  dragged  the  corpse  out  through 
the  window " 

Chubikoff  went  up  to  the  window,  pulled  the  curtain  to 
one  side,  and  carefully  pushed  the  window.  The  window 
opened. 

"  It  opens,  you  see !  It  wasn't  fastened.  Hm  !  There 
are  tracks  under  the  window.  Look!  There  is  the  track 
of  a  knee !  Somebody  got  in  there.  We  must  examine 
the  window  thoroughly." 

"  There  is  nothing  special  to  be  found  on  the  floor," 
said  Dukovski.  "  No  stains  or  scratches.  The  only  thing 
I  found  was  a  struck  safety  match.  Here  it  is!  So  far 
as  I  remember,  Marcus  Ivanovitch  did  not  smoke.  And 
he  always  used  sulphur  matches,  never  safety  matches. 
Perhaps  this  safety  match  may  serve  as  a  clew ! " 

160 


Anton  Chekhoff 

"  Oh,  do  shut  up !  "  cried  the  magistrate  deprecatingly. 
"You  go  on  about  your  match!  I  can't  abide  these 
dreamers!  Instead  of  chasing  matches,  you  had  better 
examine  the  bed  !  " 

After  a  thorough  examination  of  the  bed,  Dukovski  re- 
ported : 

"  There  are  no  spots,  either  of  blood  or  of  anything  else. 
There  are  likewise  no  new  torn  places.  On  the  pillow 
there  are  signs  of  teeth.  The  quilt  is  stained  with  some- 
thing which  looks  like  beer  and  smells  like  beer.  The 
general  aspect  of  the  bed  gives  grounds  for  thinking  that 
a  struggle  took  place  on  it." 

"  I  know  there  was  a  struggle,  without  your  telling  me ! 
You  are  not  being  asked  about  a  struggle.  Instead  of 
looking  for  struggles,  you  had  better " 

"  Here  is  one  top  boot,  but  there  is  no  sign  of  the 
other." 

"Well,  and  what  of  that?" 

"  It  proves  that  they  strangled  him,  while  he  was  tak- 
ing his  boots  off.  He  hadn't  time  to  take  the  second  boot 
off  when " 

"  There  you  go ! — and  how  do  you  know  they  strangled 
him?" 

"  There  are  marks  of  teeth  on  the  pillow.  The  pillow 
itself  is  badly  crumpled,  and  thrown  a  couple  of  yards  from 
the  bed." 

"  Listen  to  his  foolishness !  Better  come  into  the  gar- 
den. You  would  be  better  employed  examining  the  garden 
than  digging  around  here.  I  can  do  that  without  you!" 

When  they  reached  the  garden  they  began  by  examin- 
ing the  grass.  The  grass  under  the  window  was  crushed 
and  trampled.  A  bushy  burdock  growing  under  the  win- 
dow close  to  the  wall  was  also  trampled.  Dukovski  suc- 
ceeded in  finding  on  it  some  broken  twigs  and  a  piece 
of  cotton  wool.  On  the  upper  branches  were  found  some 
fine  hairs  of  dark  blue  wool. 

"  What  color  was  his  last  suit?  "  Dukovski  asked  Psye- 
koff. 

161 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"Yellow  crash.'' 

"  Excellent !    You  see  they  wore  blue !  " 

A  few  twigs  of  the  burdock  were  cut  off,  and  care- 
fully wrapped  in  paper  by  the  investigators.  At  this 
point  Police  Captain  Artsuybasheff  Svistakovski  and  Dr. 
Tyutyeff  arrived.  The  captain  bade  them  "  Good  day !  " 
and  immediately  began  to  satisfy  his  curiosity.  The  doc- 
tor, a  tall,  very  lean  man,  with  dull  eyes,  a  long  nose,  and 
a  pointed  chin,  without  greeting  anyone  or  asking  about 
anything,  sat  down  on  a  log,  sighed,  and  began : 

"  The  Servians  are  at  war  again !  What  in  heaven's 
name  can  they  want  now  ?  Austria,  it's  all  your  doing !  " 

The  examination  of  the  window  from  the  outside  did 
not  supply  any  conclusive  data.  The  examination  of  the 
grass  and  the  bushes  nearest  to  the  window  yielded  a 
series  of  useful  clews.  For  example,  Dukovski  succeeded 
in  discovering  a  long,  dark  streak,  made  up  of  spots,  on 
the  grass,  which  led  some  distance  into  the  center  of  the 
garden.  The  streak  ended  under  one  of  the  lilac  bushes 
in  a  dark  brown  stain.  Under  this  same  lilac  bush  was 
found  a  top  boot,  which  turned  out  to  be  the  fellow  of  the 
boot  already  found  in  the  bedroom. 

"  That  is  a  blood  stain  made  some  time  ago,"  said 
Dukovski,  examining  the  spot. 

At  the  word  "  blood  "  the  doctor  rose,  and  going  over 
lazily,  looked  at  the  spot. 

"  Yes,  it  is  blood !  "  he  muttered. 

"  That  shows  he  wasn't  strangled,  if  there  was  blood," 
said  Chubikoff,  looking  sarcastically  at  Dukovski. 

"  They  strangled  him  in  the  bedroom ;  and  here,  fear- 
ing he  might  come  round  again,  they  struck  him  a  blow 
with  some  sharp-pointed  instrument.  The  stain  under  the 
bush  proves  that  he  lay  there  a  considerable  time,  while 
they  were  looking  about  for  some  way  of  carrying  him 
out  of  the  garden. 

"  Well,  and  how  about  the  boot  ?  " 

"  The  boot  confirms  completely  my  idea  that  they  mur- 
dered him  while  he  was  taking  his  boots  off  before  going 

162 


Anton  Chekhoff 

to  bed.  He  had  already  taken  off  one  boot,  and  the  other, 
this  one  here,  he  had  only  had  time  to  take  half  off.  The 
half-off  boot  came  off  of  itself,  while  the  body  was  dragged 
over,  and  fell " 

"  There's  a  lively  imagination  for  you !  "  laughed  Chubi- 
koff.  "  He  goes  on  and  on  like  that !  When  will  you  learn 
enough  to  drop  your  deductions  ?  Instead  of  arguing  and 
deducing,  it  would  be  much  better  if  you  took  some  of 
the  blood-stained  grass  for  analysis !  " 

When  they  had  finished  their  examination,  and  drawn 
a  plan  of  the  locality,  the  investigators  went  to  the  direc- 
tor's office  to  write  their  report  and  have  breakfast.  While 
they  were  breakfasting  they  went  on  talking: 

"  The  watch,  the  money,  and  so  on — all  untouched — " 
Chubikoff  began,  leading  off  the  talk,  "  show  as  clearly  as 
that  two  and  two  are  four  that  the  murder  was  not  com- 
mitted for  the  purpose  of  robbery." 

"  The  murder  was  committed  by  an  educated  man !  "  in- 
sisted Dukovski. 

"  What  evidence  have  you  of  that  ?  " 

"  The  safety  match  proves  that  to  me,  for  the  peasants 
hereabouts  are  not  yet  acquainted  with  safety  matches. 
Only  the  landowners  use  them,  and  by  no  means  all  of 
them.  And  it  is  evident  that  there  was  not  one  murderer, 
but  at  least  three.  Two  held  him,  while  one  killed  him. 
Klausoff  was  strong,  and  the  murderers  must  have  known 
it!" 

"  What  good  would  his  strength  be,  supposing  he  was 
asleep?" 

"  The  murderers  came  on  him  while  he  was  taking  off 
his  boots.  If  he  was  taking  off  his  boots,  that  proves  that 
he  wasn't  asleep  !  " 

"  Stop  inventing  your  deductions  !    Better  eat !  " 

"  In  my  opinion,  your  worship,"  said  the  gardener 
Ephraim,  setting  the  samovar  on  the  table,  "  it  was  no- 
body but  Nicholas  who  did  this  dirty  trick !  " 

"  Quite  possible,"  said  Psyekoff. 

"  And  who  is  Nicholas  ?  " 

163 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  The  master's  valet,  your  worship,"  answered  Ephraim. 
"  Who  else  could  it  be  ?  He's  a  rascal,  your  worship  !  He's 
a  drunkard  and  a  blackguard,  the  like  of  which  Heaven 
should  not  permit !  He  always  took  the  master  his  vodka 
and  put  the  master  to  bed.  Who  else  could  it  be?  And 
I  also  venture  to  point  out  to  your  worship,  he  once 
boasted  at  the  public  house  that  he  would  kill  the  mas- 
ter! It  happened  on  account  of  Aquilina,  the  woman, 
you  know.  He  was  making  up  to  a  soldier's  widow. 
She  pleased  the  master ;  the  master  made  friends  with  her 
himself,  and  Nicholas — naturally,  he  was  mad !  He  is 
rolling  about  drunk  in  the  kitchen  now.  He  is  crying, 
and  telling  lies,  saying  he  is  sorry  for  the  master " 

The  examining  magistrate  ordered  Nicholas  to  be 
brought.  Nicholas,  a  lanky  young  fellow,  with  a  long, 
freckled  nose,  narrow-chested,  and  wearing  an  old  jacket 
of  his  master's,  entered  Psyekoff's  room,  and  bowed  low 
before  the  magistrate.  His  face  was  sleepy  and  tear- 
stained.  He  was  tipsy  and  could  hardly  keep  his  feet. 

"  Where  is  your  master  ?  "  Chubikoff  asked  him. 

"  Murdered !  your  worship !  " 

As  he  said  this,  Nicholas  blinked  and  began  to  weep. 

"  We  know  he  was  murdered.  But  where  is  he  now  ? 
Where  is  his  body?" 

"  They  say  he  was  dragged  out  of  the  window  and 
buried  in  the  garden !  " 

"  Hum !  The  results  of  the  investigation  are  known  in 
the  kitchen  already! — That's  bad!  Where  were  you,  my 
good  fellow,  the  night  the  master  was  murdered?  Satur- 
day night,  that  is." 

Nicholas  raised  his  head,  stretched  his  neck,  and  began 
to  think. 

"  I  don't  know,  your  worship,"  he  said.  "  I  was  drunk 
and  don't  remember." 

"  An  alibi !  "  whispered  Dukovski,  smiling,  and  rubbing 
his  hands. 

"  So-o !  And  why  is  there  blood  under  the  master's 
window  ?  " 

164 


Anton  Chekhoff 

Nicholas  jerked  his  head  up  and  considered. 

"  Hurry  up !  "  said  the  Captain  of  Police. 

"  Right  away !  That  blood  doesn't  amount  to  anything, 
your  worship !  I  was  cutting  a  chicken's  throat.  I  was 
doing  it  quite  simply,  in  the  usual  way,  when  all  of  a 
sudden  it  broke  away  and  started  to  run.  That  is  where 
the  blood  came  from." 

Ephraim  declared  that  Nicholas  did  kill  a  chicken  every 
evening,  and  always  in  some  new  place,  but  that  nobody 
ever  heard  of  a  half-killed  chicken  running  about  the  gar- 
den, though  of  course  it  wasn't  impossible. 

"  An  alibi,"  sneered  Dukovski ;  "  and  what  an  asinine 
alibi ! " 

"  Did  you  know  Aquilina  ?  " 

"  Yes,  your  worship,  I  know  her." 

"And  the  master  cut  you  out  with  her?" 

"  Not  at  all.  He  cut  me  out — Mr.  Psyekoff  there,  Ivan 
Mikhailovitch ;  and  the  master  cut  Ivan  Mikhailovitch  out. 
That  is  how  it  was." 

Psyekoff  grew  confused  and  began  to  scratch  his  left 
eye.  Dukovski  looked  at  him  attentively,  noted  his  con- 
fusion, and  started.  He  noticed  that  the  director  had  dark 
blue  trousers,  which  he  had  not  observed  before.  The 
trousers  reminded  him  of  the  dark  blue  threads  found  on 
the  burdock.  Chubikoff  in  his  turn  glanced  suspiciously 
at  Psyekoff. 

"  Go !  "  he  said  to  Nicholas.  "  And  now  permit  me  to 
put  a  question  to  you,  Mr.  Psyekoff.  Of  course  you  were 
here  last  Saturday  evening?  " 

"  Yes !  I  had  supper  with  Marcus  Ivanovitch  about  ten 
o'clock." 

"And  afterwards?" 

"  Afterwards — afterwards —  Really,  I  do  not  remem- 
ber," stammered  Psyekoff.  "I  had  a  good  deal  to  drink 
at  supper.  I  don't  remember  when  or  where  I  went  to 
sleep.  Why  are  you  all  looking  at  me  like  that,  as  if  I  was 
the  murderer  ?  " 

"  Where  were  you  when  you  woke  up  ?  " 

165 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  I  was  in  the  servants'  kitchen,  lying  behind  the  stove ! 
They  can  all  confirm  it.  How  I  got  behind  the  stove  I 
don't  know " 

"  Do  not  get  agitated.     Did  you  know  Aquilina  ?  " 

"  There's  nothing  extraordinary  about  that " 

"  She  first  liked  you  and  then  preferred  Klausoff?" 

"  Yes.  Ephraim,  give  us  some  more  mushrooms !  Do 
you  want  some  more  tea,  Eugraph  Kuzmitch  ?  " 

A  heavy,  oppressive  silence  began  and  lasted  fully  five 
minutes.  Dukoyski  silently  kept  his  piercing  eyes  fixed 
on  Psyekoff's  pale  face.  The  silence  was  finally  broken 
by  the  examining  magistrate: 

"  We  must  go  to  the  house  and  talk  with  Maria  Ivan- 
ovna,  the  sister  of  the  deceased.  Perhaps  she  may  be  able 
to  supply  some  clews." 

Chubikoff  and  his  assistant  expressed  their  thanks  for 
the  breakfast,  and  went  toward  the  house.  They  found 
Klausoff's  sister,  Maria  Ivanovna,  an  old  maid  of  forty- 
five,  at  prayer  before  the  big  case  of  family  icons.  When 
she  saw  the  portfolios  in  her  guests'  hands,  and  their  offi- 
cial caps,  she  grew  pale. 

"  Let  me  begin  by  apologizing  for  disturbing,  so  to 
speak,  your  devotions,"  began  the  gallant  Chubikoff,  bow- 
ing and  scraping.  "  We  have  come  to  you  with  a  request. 
Of  course,  you  have  heard  already.  There  is  a  suspicion 
that  your  dear  brother,  in  some  way  or  other,  has  been 
murdered.  The  will  of  God,  you  know.  No  one  can 
escape  death,  neither  czar  nor  plowman.  Could  you  not 
help  us  with  some  clew,  some  explanation ?" 

"  Oh,  don't  ask  me !  "  said  Maria  Ivanovna,  growing  still 
paler,  and  covering  her  face  with  her  hands.  "  I  can  tell 
you  nothing.  Nothing!  I  beg  you!  I  know  nothing — 
What  can  I  do?  Oh,  no!  no! — not  a  word  about  my 
brother !  If  I  die,  I  won't  say  anything !  " 

Maria  Ivanovna  began  to  weep,  and  left  the  room.  The 
investigators  looked  at  each  other,  shrugged  their  shoul- 
ders, and  beat  a  retreat. 

"  Confound  the  woman !  "  scolded  Dukovski,  going  out  of 
166 


Anton  Chekhoff 

the  house.  "  It  is  clear  she  knows  something,  and  is  con- 
cealing it!  And  the  chambermaid  has  a  queer  expression 
too !  Wait,  you  wretches !  We'll  ferret  it  all  out !  " 

In  the  evening  Chubikoff  and  his  deputy,  lit  on  their  road 
by  the  pale  moon,  wended  their  way  homeward.  They  sat 
in  their  carriage  and  thought  over  the  results  of  the  day. 
Both  were  tired  and  kept  silent.  Chubikoff  was  always  un- 
willing to  talk  while  traveling,  and  the  talkative  Dukovski 
remained  silent,  to  fall  in  with  the  elder  man's  humor. 
But  at  the  end  of  their  journey  the  deputy  could  hold  in  no 
longer,  and  said: 

"  It  is  quite  certain,"  he  said,  "  that  Nicholas  had  some- 
thing to  do  with  the  matter.  Non  dubitandum  est!  You 
can  see  by  his  face  what  sort  of  a  case  he  is !  His  alibi  be- 
trays him,  body  and  bones.  But  it  is  also  certain  that  he 
did  not  set  the  thing  going.  He  was  only  the  stupid  hired 
tool.  You  agree  ?  And  the  humble  Psyekoff  was  not  with- 
out some  slight  share  in  the  matter.  His  dark  blue 
breeches,  his  agitation,  his  lying  behind  the  stove  in  terror 
after  the  murder,  his  alibi  and — Aquilina " 

"  '  Grind  away,  Emilian ;  it's  your  week ! '  So,  according 
to  you,  whoever  knew  Aquilina  is  the  murderer!  Hot- 
head !  You  ought  to  be  sucking  a  bottle,  and  not  handling 
affairs !  You  were  one  of  Aquilina's  admirers  yourself — 
does  it  follow  that  you  are  implicated  too  ?  " 

"  Aquilina  was  cook  in  your  house  for  a  month.  I  am 
saying  nothing  about  that!  The  night  before  that  Satur- 
day I  was  playing  cards  with  you,  and  saw  you,  otherwise 
I  should  be  after  you  too !  It  isn't  the  woman  that  matters, 
old  chap !  It  is  the  mean,  nasty,  low  spirit  of  jealousy  that 
matters.  The  retiring  young  man  was  not  pleased  when 
they  got  the  better  of  him,  you  see!  His  vanity,  don't 
you  see  ?  He  wanted  revenge.  Then,  those  thick  lips  of  his 
suggest  passion.  So  there  you  have  it:  wounded  self-love 
and  passion.  That  is  quite  enough  motive  for  a  murder. 
We  have  two  of  them  in  our  hands ;  but  who  is  the  third  ? 
Nicholas  and  Psyekoff  held  him,  but  who  smothered  him? 
Psyekoff  is  shy,  timid,  an  all-round  coward.  And  Nicholas 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

would  not  know  how  to  smother  with  a  pillow.  His  sort 
use  an  ax  or  a  club.  Some  third  person  did  the  smother- 
ing ;  but  who  was  it  ?  " 

Dukovski  crammed  his  hat  down  over  his  eyes  and  pon- 
dered. He  remained  silent  until  the  carriage  rolled  up  to 
the  magistrate's  door. 

"  Eureka ! "  he  said,  entering  the  little  house  and  throw- 
ing off  his  overcoat.  "  Eureka,  Nicholas  Yermolalye- 
vitch !  The  only  thing  I  can't  understand  is,  how  it  did 
not  occur  to  me  sooner !  Do  you  know  who  the  third  per- 
son was  ?  " 

"  Oh,  for  goodness  sake,  shut  up !  There  is  supper !  Sit 
down  to  your  evening  meal !  " 

The  magistrate  and  Dukovski  sat  down  to  supper.  Du- 
kovski poured  himself  out  a  glass  of  vodka,  rose,  drew  him- 
self up,  and  said,  with  sparkling  eyes : 

"  Well,  learn  that  the  third  person,  who  acted  in  concert 
with  that  scoundrel  Psyekoff,  and  did  the  smothering,  was 
a  woman !  Yes-s !  I  mean — the  murdered  man's  sister, 
Maria  Ivanovna !  " 

Chubikoff  choked  over  his  vodka,  and  fixed  his  eyes  on 
Dukovski. 

"  You  aren't — what's-its-name  ?  Your  head  isn't  what- 
do-you-call-it  ?  You  haven't  a  pain  in  it  ?  " 

"  I  am  perfectly  well !  Very  well,  let  us  say  that  I  am 
crazy ;  but  how  do  you  explain  her  confusion  when  we  ap- 
peared? How  do  you  explain  her  unwillingness  to  give  us 
any  information  ?  Let  us  admit  that  these  are  trifles.  Very 
well!  All  right!  But  remember  their  relations.  She  de- 
tested her  brother.  She  never  forgave  him  for  living  apart 
from  his  wife.  She  is  of  the  Old  Faith,  while  in  her  eyes 
he  is  a  godless  profligate.  There  is  where  the  germ  of 
her  hate  was  hatched.  They  say  he  succeeded  in  making 
her  believe  that  he  was  an  angel  of  Satan.  He  even  went 
in  for  spiritualism  in  her  presence ! " 

"Well,  what  of  that?" 

"  You  don't  understand  ?  She,  as  a  member  of  the  Old 
Faith,  murdered  him  through  fanaticism.  It  was  not  only 

168 


Anton  Chekhoff 

that  she  was  putting  to  death  a  weed,  a  profligate — she  was 
freeing  the  world  of  an  antichrist ! — and  there,  in  her  opin- 
ion, was  her  service,  her  religious  achievement!  Oh,  you 
don't  know  those  old  maids  of  the  Old  Faith.  Read  Dos- 
toyevsky!  And  what  does  Lyeskoff  say  about  them,  or 
Petcherski?  It  was  she,  and  nobody  else,  even  if  you  cut 
me  open.  She  smothered  him!  O  treacherous  woman! 
wasn't  that  the  reason  why  she  was  kneeling  before  the 
icons,  when  we  came  in,  just  to  take  our  attention  away? 
'  Let  me  kneel  down  and  pray/  she  said  to  herself,  '  and 
they  will  think  I  am  tranquil  and  did  not  expect  them ! ' 
That  is  the  plan  of  all  novices  in  crime,  Nicholas  Yer- 
molaiyevitch,  old  pal !  My  dear  old  man,  won't  you  intrust 
this  business  to  me?  Let  me  personally  bring  it  through! 
Friend,  I  began  it  and  I  will  finish  it ! " 

Chubikoff  shook  his  head  and  frowned. 

"  We  know  how  to  manage  difficult  matters  ourselves," 
he  said ;  "  and  your  business  is  not  to  push  yourself  in 
where  you  don't  belong.  Write  from  dictation  when  you 
are  dictated  to;  that  is  your  job!" 

Dukovski  flared  up,  banged  the  door,  and  disappeared. 

"  Clever  rascal !  "  muttered  Chubikoff,  glancing  after 
him.  "  Awfully  clever !  But  too  much  of  a  hothead.  I 
must  buy  him  a  cigar  case  at  the  fair  as  a  present." 

The  next  day,  early  in  the  morning,  a  young  man  with  a 
big  head  and  a  pursed-up  mouth,  who  came  from  Klau- 
soff's  place,  was  introduced  to  the  magistrate's  office.  He 
said  he  was  the  shepherd  Daniel,  and  brought  a  very  in- 
teresting piece  of  information. 

"  I  was  a  bit  drunk,"  he  said.  "  I  was  with  my  pal  till 
midnight.  On  my  way  home,  as  I  was  drunk,  I  went  into 
the  river  for  a  bath.  I  was  taking  a  bath,  when  I  looked 
up.  Two  men  were  walking  along  the  dam,  carrying 
something  black.  '  Shoo ! '  I  cried  at  them.  They  got 
scared,  and  went  off  like  the  wind  toward  Makareff's  cab- 
bage garden.  Strike  me  dead,  if  they  weren't  carrying 
away  the  master !  " 

That  same  day,  toward  evening,  Psyekoff  and  Nicholas 

169 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

were  arrested  and  brought  under  guard  to  the  district 
town.  In  the  town  they  were  committed  to  the  cells  of  the 
prison. 

II 

A  FORTNIGHT  passed. 

It  was  morning.  The  magistrate  Nicholas  Yermolai- 
yevitch  was  sitting  in  his  office  before  a  green  table,  turn- 
ing over  the  papers  of  the  "  Klausoff  -case  "  ;  Dukovski  was 
striding  restlessly  up  and  down,  like  a  wolf  in  a  cage. 

"  You  are  convinced  of  the  guilt  of  Nicholas  and  Psye- 
koff,"  he  said,  nervously  plucking  at  his  young  beard. 
"  Why  will  you  not  believe  in  the  guilt  of  Maria  Ivanovna  ? 
Are  there  not  proofs  enough  for  you  ?  " 

"  I  don't  say  I  am  not  convinced.  I  am  convinced,  but 
somehow  I  don't  believe  it !  There  are  no  real  proofs,  but 
just  a  kind  of  philosophizing — fanaticism,  this  and  that " 

"  You  can't  do  without  an  ax  and  bloodstained  sheets. 
Those  jurists!  Very  well,  I'll  prove  it  to  you!  You  will 
stop  sneering  at  the  psychological  side  of  the  affair !  To 
Siberia  with  your  Maria  Ivanovna!  I  will  prove  it!  If 
philosophy  is  not  enough  for  you,  I  have  something  substan- 
tial for  you.  It  will  show  you  how  correct  my  philosophy 
is.  Just  give  me  permission " 

"What  are  you  going  on  about?" 

"About  the  safety  match!  Have  you  forgotten  it?  I 
haven't !  I  am  going  to  find  out  who  struck  it  in  the  mur- 
dered man's  room.  It  was  not  Nicholas  that  struck  it;  it 
was  not  Psyekoff,  for  neither  of  them  had  any  matches 
when  they  were  examined ;  it  was  the  third  person,  Maria 
Ivanovna.  I  will  prove  it  to  you.  Just  give  me  permission 
to  go  through  the  district  to  find  out." 

"  That's  enough !  Sit  down.  Let  us  go  on  with  the  ex- 
amination." 

Dukovski  sat  down  at  a  little  table,  and  plunged  his  long 
nose  in  a  bundle  of  papers. 

"  Bring  in  Nicholas  Tetekhoff ! "  cried  the  examining 
magistrate. 

170 


Anton  Chekhoff 

They  brought  Nicholas  in.  Nicholas  was  pale  and  thin 
as  a  rail.  He  was  trembling. 

"  Tetekhoff !  "  began  Chubikoff.  "  In  1879  you  were 
tried  in  the  Court  of  the  First  Division,  convicted  of  theft, 
and  sentenced  to  imprisonment.  In  1882  you  were  tried  a 
second  time  for  theft,  and  were  again  imprisoned.  We 
know  all " 

Astonishment  was  depicted  on  Nicholas's  face.  The 
examining  magistrate's  omniscience  startled  him.  But  soon 
his  expression  of  astonishment  changed  to  extreme  indig- 
nation. He  began  to  cry  and  requested  permission  to  go 
and  wash  his  face  and  quiet  down.  They  led  him  away. 

"  Brink  in  Psyekoff !  "  ordered  the  examining  magistrate. 

They  brought  in  Psyekoff.  The  young  man  had  changed 
greatly  during  the  last  few  days.  He  had  grown  thin  and 
pale,  and  looked  haggard.  His  eyes  had  an  apathetic  ex- 
pression. 

"  Sit  down,  Psyekoff,"  said  Chubikoff.  "  I  hope  that  to- 
day you  are  going  to  be  reasonable,  and  will  not  tell  lies, 
as  you  did  before.  All  these  days  you  have  denied  that 
you  had  anything  to  do  with  the  murder  of  Klausoff,  in 
spite  of  all  the  proofs  that  testify  against  you.  That  is 
foolish.  Confession  will  lighten  your  guilt.  This  is  the 
last  time  I  am  going  to  talk  to  you.  If  you  do  not  confess 
to-day,  to-morrow  it  will  be  too  late.  Come,  tell  me  all " 

"  I  know  nothing  about  it.  I  know  nothing  about  your 
proofs/'  answered  Psyekoff,  almost  inaudibly. 

"  It's  no  use !  Well,  let  me  relate  to  you  how  the  matter 
took  place.  On  Saturday  evening  you  were  sitting  in 
Klausoff's  sleeping  room,  and  drinking  vodka  and  beer 
with  him."  (Dukovski  fixed  his  eyes  on  Psyekoff's  face, 
and  kept  them  there  all  through  the  examination.) 
"  Nicholas  was  waiting  on  you.  At  one  o'clock,  Mar- 
cus Ivanovitch  announced  his  intention  of  going  to  bed. 
He  always  went  to  bed  at  one  o'clock.  When  he  was 
taking  off  his  boots,  and  was  giving  you  directions  about 
details  of  management,  you  and  Nicholas,  at  a  given  sig- 
nal, seized  your  drunken  master  and  threw  him  on  the 

171 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

bed.  One  of  you  sat  on  his  legs,  the  other  on  his  head. 
Then  a  third  person  came  in  from  the  passage — a  woman 
in  a  black  dress,  whom  you  know  well,  and  who  had  pre- 
viously arranged  with  you  as  to  her  share  in  your  criminal 
deed.  She  seized  a  pillow  and  began  to  smother  him. 
While  the  struggle  was  going  on  the  candle  went  out.  The 
woman  took  a  box  of  safety  matches  from  her  pocket,  and 
lit  the  candle.  Was  it  not  so?  I  see  by  your  face  that  I 
am  speaking  the  truth.  But  to  go  on.  After  you  had 
smothered  him,  and  saw  that  he  had  ceased  breathing,  you 
and  Nicholas  pulled  him  out  through  the  window  and  laid 
him  down  near  the  burdock.  Fearing  that  he  might  come 
round  again,  you  struck  him  with  something  sharp.  Then 
you  carried  him  away,  and  laid  him  down  under  a  lilac 
bush  for  a  short  time.  After  resting  awhile  and  consider- 
ing, you  carried  him  across  the  fence.  Then  you  entered 
the  road.  After  that  comes  the  dam.  Near  the  dam,  a 
peasant  frightened  you.  Well,  what  is  the  matter  with 
you?" 

"I  am  suffocating!"  replied  Psyekoff.  "Very  well- 
have  it  so.  Only  let  me  go  out,  please !  " 

They  led  Psyekoff  away. 

"  At  last !  He  has  confessed !  "  cried  Chubikoff ,  stretch- 
ing himself  luxuriously.  "  He  has  betrayed  himself !  And 
didn't  I  get  round  him  cleverly!  Regularly  caught  him 
napping " 

"  And  he  doesn't  deny  the  woman  in  the  black  dress !  " 
exulted  Dukovski.  "  But  all  the  same,  that  safety  match  is 
tormenting  me  frightfully.  I  can't  stand  it  any  longer. 
Good-by!  I  am  off!" 

Dukovski  put  on  his  cap  and  drove  off.  Chubikoff  began 
to  examine  Aquilina.  Aquilina  declared  that  she  knew 
nothing  whatever  about  it. 

At  six  that  evening  Dukovski  returned.  He  was  more 
agitated  than  he  had  ever  been  before.  His  hands  trem- 
bled so  that  he  could  not  even  unbutton  his  greatcoat.  His 
cheeks  glowed.  It  was  clear  that  he  did  not  come  empty- 
handed. 

172 


Anton  Chekhoff 

"  Veni,  vidi,  vici! "  he  cried,  rushing  into  Chubikoff  s 
room,  and  falling  into  an  armchair.  "  I  swear  to  you  on 
my  honor,  I  begin  to  believe  that  I  am  a  genius!  Listen, 
devil  take  us  all !  It  is  funny,  and  it  is  sad.  We  have 
caught  three  already — isn't  that  so?  Well,  I  have  found 
the  fourth,  and  a  woman  at  that.  You  will  never  believe 
who  it  is!  But  listen.  I  went  to  KlausofFs  village,  and 
began  to  make  a  spiral  round  it.  I  visited  all  the  little 
shops,  public  houses,  dram  shops  on  the  road,  everywhere 
asking  for  safety  matches.  Everywhere  they  said  they 
hadn't  any.  I  made  a  wide  round.  Twenty  times  I  lost 
faith,  and  twenty  times  I  got  it  back  again.  I  knocked 
about  the  whole  day,  and  only  an  hour  ago  I  got  on  the 
track.  Three  versts  from  here.  They  gave  me  a  packet 
of  ten  boxes.  One  box  was  missing.  Immediately :  *  Who 
bought  the  other  box  ?  '  '  Such-a-one !  She  was  pleased 
with  them ! '  Old  man !  Nicholas  Yermolaiyevitch !  See 
what  a  fellow  who  was  expelled  from  the  seminary  and  who 
has  read  Gaboriau  can  do!  From  to-day  on  I  begin  to 
respect  myself !  Oof !  Well,  come !  " 

"Come  where?" 

"  To  her,  to  number  four !  We  must  hurry,  otherwise — 
otherwise  I'll  burst  with  impatience!  Do  you  know  who 
she  is?  You'll  never  guess!  Olga  Petrovna,  Marcus 
Ivanovitch's  wife — his  own  wife — that's  who  it  is!  She  is 
the  person  who  bought  the  matchbox ! " 

"  You — you — you  are  out  of  your  mind !  " 

"  It's  quite  simple !  To  begin  with,  she  smokes.  Sec- 
ondly, she  was  head  and  ears  in  love  with  Klausoff,  even 
after  he  refused  to  live  in  the  same  house  with  her,  because 
she  was  always  scolding  his  head  off.  Why,  they  say  she 
used  to  beat  him  because  she  loved  him  so  much.  And  then 
he  positively  refused  to  stay  in  the  same  house.  Love  turned 
sour.  '  Hell  hath  no  fury  like  a  woman  scorned/  But  come 
along !  Quick,  or  it  will  be  dark.  Come !  " 

"  I  am  not  yet  sufficiently  crazy  to  go  and  disturb  a  re- 
spectable honorable  woman  in  the  middle  of  the  night  for  a 
crazy  boy !  " 

173 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  Respectable,  honorable !  Do  honorable  women  murder 
their  husbands?  After  that  you  are  a  rag,  and  not  an 
examining  magistrate !  I  never  ventured  to  call  you  names 
before,  but  now  you  compel  me  to.  Rag !  Dressing-gown ! 
— Dear  Nicholas  Yermolaiyevitch,  do  come,  I  beg  of 
you ! " 

The  magistrate  made  a  deprecating  motion  with  his 
hand. 

"  I  beg  of  you !  I  ask,  not  for  myself,  but  in  the  inter- 
ests of  justice.  I  beg  you!  I  implore  you!  Do  what  I 
ask  you  to,  just  this  once ! " 

Dukovski  went  down  on  his  knees. 

"  Nicholas  Yermolaiyevitch !  Be  kind !  Call  me  a  black- 
guard, a  ne'er-do-weel,  if  I  am  mistaken  about  this  woman. 
You  see  what  an  affair  it  is.  What  a  case  it  is.  A  ro- 
mance! A  woman  murdering  her  own  husband  for  love! 
The  fame  of  it  will  go  all  over  Russia.  They  will  make  you 
investigator  in  all  important  cases.  Understand,  O  foolish 
old  man!" 

The  magistrate  frowned,  and  undecidedly  stretched  his 
hand  toward  his  cap. 

"  Oh,  the  devil  take  you !  "  he  said.    "  Let  us  go !  " 

It  was  dark  when  the  magistrate's  carriage  rolled  up  to 
the  porch  of  the  old  country  house  in  which  Olga  Petrovna 
had  taken  refuge  with  her  brother. 

"What  pigs  we  are,"  said  Chubikoff,  taking  hold -of  the 
bell,  "  to  disturb  a  poor  woman  like  this !  " 

"  It's  all  right !  It's  all  right !  Don't  get  frightened ! 
We  can  say  that  we  have  broken  a  spring." 

Chubikoff  and  Dukovski  were  met  at  the  threshold  by  a 
tall  buxom  woman  of  three  and  twenty,  with  pitch-black 
brows  and  juicy  red  lips.  It  was  Olga  Petrovna  herself, 
apparently  not  the  least  distressed  by  the  recent  tragedy. 

"  Oh,  what  a  pleasant  surprise ! "  she  said,  smiling 
broadly.  "  You  are  just  in  time  for  supper.  Kuzma  Petro- 
vitch  is  not  at  home.  He  is  visiting  the  priest,  and  has 
stayed  late.  But  we'll  get  on  without  him!  Be  seated. 
You  have  come  from  the  examination  ?  " 

174 


Anton  Chekhoff 

"  Yes.  We  broke  a  spring,  you  know,"  began  Chubikoff, 
entering  the  sitting  room  and  sinking  into  an  armchair. 

"  Take  her  unawares — at  once !  "  whispered  Dukovski ; 
"  take  her  unawares !  " 

"  A  spring — hum — yes — so  we  came  in." 

"  Take  her  unawares,  I  tell  you !  She  will  guess  what 
the  matter  is  if  you  drag  things  out  like  that." 

"  Well,  do  it  yourself  as  you  want.  But  let  me  get  out 
of  it,"  muttered  Chubikoff,  rising  and  going  to  the  window. 

"  Yes,  a  spring,"  began  Dukovski,  going  close  to  Olga 
Petrovna  and  wrinkling  his  long  nose.  "  We  did  not  drive 
over  here — to  take  supper  with  you  or— to  see  Kuzma  Pe- 
trovitch.  We  came  here  to  ask  you,  respected  madam, 
where  Marcus  Ivanovitch  is,  whom  you  murdered ! " 

"  What  ?  Marcus  Ivanovitch  murdered  ?  "  stammered 
Olga  Petrovna,  and  her  broad  face  suddenly  and  instan- 
taneously flushed  bright  scarlet.  "  I  don't — understand !  " 

"  I  ask  you  in  the  name  of  the  law !  Where  is  Klausoff  ? 
We  know  all !  " 

"  Who  told  you  ?  "  Olga  Petrovna  asked  in  a  low  voice, 
unable  to  endure  Dukovski's  glance. 

"  Be  so  good  as  to  show  us  where  he  is !  " 

"  But  how  did  you  find  out?    Who  told  you?  " 

"  We  know  all !    I  demand  it  in  the  name  of  the  law !  " 

The  examining  magistrate,  emboldened  by  her  confusion, 
came  forward  and  said : 

"  Show  us,  and  we  will  go  away.    Otherwise,  we " 

"  What  do  you  want  with  him  ?  " 

"  Madam,  what  is  the  use  of  these  questions  ?  We  ask 
you  to  show  us!  You  tremble,  you  are  agitated.  Yes,  he 
has  been  murdered,  and,  if  you  must  have  it,  murdered  by 
you !  Your  accomplices  have  betrayed  you !  " 

Olga  Petrovna  grew  pale. 

"  Come ! "  she  said  in  a  low  voice,  wringing  her  hands. 
"  I  have  him — hid — in  the  bath  house !  Only  for  heaven's 
sake,  do  not  tell  Kuzma  Petrovitch.  I  beg  and  implore  you ! 
He  will  never  forgive  me !  " 

Olga  Petrovna  took  down  a  big  key  from  the  wall,  and 
175 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

led  her  guests  through  the  kitchen  and  passage  to  the  court- 
yard. The  courtyard  was  in  darkness.  Fine  rain  was  fall- 
ing. Olga  Petrovna  walked  in  advance  of  them.  Chubi- 
koff  and  Dukovski  strode  behind  her  through  the  long 
grass,  as  the  odor  of  wild  hemp  and  dishwater  splashing 
under  their  feet  reached  them.  The  courtyard  was  wide. 
Soon  the  dishwater  ceased,  and  they  felt  freshly  broken 
earth  under  their  feet.  In  the  darkness  appeared  the 
shadowy  outlines  of  trees,  and  among  the  trees  a  little  house 
with  a  crooked  chimney. 

"  That  is  the  bath  house,"  said  Olga  Petrovna.  "  But 
I  implore  you,  do  not  tell  my  brother !  If  you  do,  I'll  never 
hear  the  end  of  it !  " 

Going  up  to  the  bath  house,  Chubikoff  and  Dukovski  saw 
a  huge  padlock  on  the  door. 

"  Get  your  candle  and  matches  ready,"  whispered  the 
examining  magistrate  to  his  deputy. 

Olga  Petrovna  unfastened  the  padlock,  and  let  her  guests 
into  the  bath  house.  Dukovski  struck  a  match  and  lit  up 
the  anteroom.  In  the  middle  of  the  anteroom  stood  a  table. 
On  the  table,  beside  a  sturdy  little  samovar,  stood  a  soup 
tureen  with  cold  cabbage  soup  and  a  plate  with  the  rem- 
nants of  some  sauce. 

"Forward!" 

They  went  into  the  next  room,  where  the  bath  was. 
There  was  a  table  there  also.  On  the  table  was  a  dish  with 
some  ham,  a  bottle  of  vodka,  plates,  knives,  forks. 

"But  where  is  it — where  is  the  murdered  man?"  asked 
the  examining  magistrate. 

"On  the  top  tier,"  whispered  Olga  Petrovna,  still  pale 
and  trembling. 

Dukovski  took  the  candle  in  his  hand  and  climbed  up 
to  the  top  tier  of  the  sweating  frame.  There  he  saw  a  long 
human  body  lying  motionless  on  a  large  feather  bed.  A 
slight  snore  came  from  the  body. 

"  You  are  making  fun  of  us,  devil  take  it !  "  cried  Du- 
kovski. "  That  is  not  the  murdered  man !  Some  live  fool 
is  lying  here.  Here,  whoever  you  are,  the  devil  take  you !  " 

176 


Anton  Chekhoff 

The  body  drew  in  a  quick  breath  and  stirred.  Dukovski 
stuck  his  elbow  into  it.  It  raised  a  hand,  stretched  itself, 
and  lifted  its  head. 

"  Who  is  sneaking  in  here  ?  "  asked  a  hoarse,  heavy  bass. 
"  What  do  you  want  ?  " 

Dukovski  raised  the  candle  to  the  face  of  the  unknown, 
and  cried  out.  In  the  red  nose,  disheveled,  unkempt  hair, 
the  pitch-black  mustaches,  one  of  which  was  jauntily 
twisted  and  pointed  insolently  toward  the  ceiling,  he  recog- 
nized the  gallant  cavalryman  Klausoff. 

"  You — Marcus — Ivanovitch  ?    Is  it  possible  ?  " 

The  examining  magistrate  glanced  sharply  up  at  him,  and 
stood  spellbound. 

"Yes,  it  is  I.  That's  you,  Dukovski?  What  the  devil 
do  you  want  here  ?  And  who's  that  other  mug  down  there  ? 
Great  snakes !  It  is  the  examining  magistrate !  What  fate 
has  brought  him  here  ?  " 

Klausoff  rushed  down  and  threw  his  arms  round  Chubi- 
koff  in  a  cordial  embrace.  Olga  Petrovna  slipped  through 
the  door. 

"  How  did  you  come  here  ?  Let's  have  a  drink,  devil 
take  it !  Tra-ta-ti-to-tum — let  us  drink !  But  who  brought 
you  here  ?  How  did  you  find  out  that  I  was  here  ?  But  it 
doesn't  matter !  Let's  have  a  drink !  " 

Klausoff  lit  the  lamp  and  poured  out  three  glasses  of 
vodka. 

"  That  is — I  don't  understand  you,"  said  the  examining 
magistrate,  running  his  hands  over  him.  "  Is  this  you  or 
not  you !  " 

"  Oh,  shut  up !  You  want  to  preach  me  a  sermon?  Don't 
trouble  yourself!  Young  Dukovski,  empty  your  glass! 
Friends,  let  us  bring  this —  What  are  you  looking  at? 
Drink!" 

"  All  the  same,  I  do  not  understand !  "  said  the  examining 
magistrate,  mechanically  drinking  off  the  vodka.  "  What 
are  you  here  for  ?  " 

"  Why  shouldn't  I  be  here,  if  I  am  all  right  here?  " 

Klausoff  drained  his  glass  and  took  a  bite  of  ham. 
177 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  I  am  in  captivity  here,  as  you  see.  In  solitude,  in  a 
cavern,  like  a  ghost  or  a  bogey.  Drink!  She  carried  me 
off  and  locked  me  up,  and — well,  I  am  living  here,  in  the 
deserted  bath  house,  like  a  hermit.  I  am  fed.  Next  week 
I  think  I'll  try  to  get  out.  I'm  tired  of  it  here !  " 

"  Incomprehensible !  "  said  Dukovski. 

"  What  is  incomprehensible  about  it  ?  " 

"  Incomprehensible !  For  Heaven's  sake,  how  did  your 
boot  get  into  the  garden  ?  " 

"What  boot?" 

"  We  found  one  boot  in  the  sleeping  room  and  the  other 
in  the  garden." 

"  And  what  do  you  want  to  know  that  for  ?  It's  none 
of  your  business!  Why  don't  you  drink,  devil  take  you? 
If  you  wakened  me,  then  drink  with  me!  It  is  an  inter- 
esting tale,  brother,  that  of  the  boot !  I  didn't  want  to  go 
with  Olga.  I  don't  like  to  be  bossed.  She  came  under  the 
window  and  began  to  abuse  me.  She  always  was  a  ter- 
magant. You  know  what  women  are  like,  all  of  them.  I 
was  a  bit  drunk,  so  I  took  a  boot  and  heaved  it  at  her. 
Ha-ha-ha!  Teach  her  not  to  scold  another  time!  But  it 
didn't!  Not  a  bit  of  it!  She  climbed  in  at  the  window, 
lit  the  lamp,  and  began  to  hammer  poor  tipsy  me.  She 
thrashed  me,  dragged  me  over  here,  and  locked  me  in. 
She  feeds  me  now — on  love,  vodka,  and  ham!  But  where 
are  you  off  to,  Chubikoff?  Where  are  you  going?" 

The  examining  magistrate  swore,  and  left  the  bath  house. 
Dukovski  followed  him,  crestfallen.  They  silently  took 
their  seats  in  the  carriage  and  drove  off.  The  road  never 
seemed  to  them  so  long  and  disagreeable  as  it  did  that  time. 
Both  remained  silent.  Chubikoff  trembled  with  rage  all  the 
way.  Dukovski  hid  his  nose  in  the  collar  of  his  overcoat, 
as  if  he  was  afraid  that  the  darkness  and  the  drizzling  rain 
might  read  the  shame  in  his  face. 

When  they  reached  home,  the  examining  magistrate 
found  Dr.  Tyutyeff  awaiting  him.  The  doctor  was  sitting 
at  the  table,  and,  sighing  deeply,  was  turning  over  the 
pages  of  the  Neva. 


Anton  Chekhoff 

"  Such  goings-on  there  are  in  the  world !  "  he  said,  meet- 
ing the  examining  magistrate  with  a  sad  smile.  "  Austria 
is  at  it  again !  And  Gladstone  also  to  some  extent " 

Chubikoff  threw  his  cap  under  the  table,  and  shook  him- 
self. 

"  Devils'  skeletons !  Don't  plague  me !  A  thousand 
times  I  have  told  you  not  to  bother  me  with  your  politics ! 
This  is  no  question  of  politics !  And  you,"  said  Chubikoff, 
turning  to  Dukovski  and  shaking  his  fist,  "  I  won't  forget 
this  in  a  thousand  years ! " 

"  But  the  safety  match?    How  could  I  know?  " 

"  Choke  yourself  with  your  safety  match !  Get  out  of 
my  way!  Don't  make  me  mad,  or  the  devil  only  knows 
what  I'll  do  to  you !  Don't  let  me  see  a  trace  of  you !  " 

Dukovski  sighed,  took  his  hat,  and  went  out. 

"  I'll  go  and  get  drunk,"  he  decided,  going  through  the 
door,  and  gloomily  wending  his  way  to  the  public  house. 


179 


Vsevolod  Vladimirovitch  Krestovski 

Knights  of  Industry 

I 

THE   LAST   WILL   OF   THE   PRINCESS 

pRINCESS  ANNA  CHECHEVINSKI  for  the  last  time 
looked  at  the  home  of  her  girlhood,  over  which  the 
St.  Petersburg  twilight  was  descending.  Defying  the  com- 
mands of  her  mother,  the  traditions  of  her  family,  she  had 
decided  to  elope  with  the  man  of  her  choice.  With  a  last 
word  of  farewell  to  her  maid,  she  wrapped  her  cloak  round 
her  and  disappeared  into  the  darkness. 

The  maid's  fate  had  been  a  strange  one.  In  one  of  the 
districts  beyond  the  Volga  lived  a  noble,  a  bachelor,  lux- 
uriously, caring  only  for  his  own  amusement.  He  fished, 
hunted,  and  petted  the  pretty  little  daughter  of  his  house- 
keeper, one  of  his  serfs,  whom  he  vaguely  intended  to  set 
free.  He  passed  hours  playing  with  the  pretty  child,  and 
even  had  an  old  French  governess  come  to  give  -her  les- 
sons. She  taught  little  Natasha  to  dance,  to  play  the  piano, 
to  put  on  the  airs  and  graces  of  a  little  lady.  So  the  years 
passed,  and  the  old  nobleman  obeyed  the  girl's  every  whim, 
and  his  serfs  bowed  before  her  and  kissed  her  hands. 
Gracefully  and  willfully  she  queened  it  over  the  whole 
household. 

Then  one  fine  day  the  old  noble  took  thought  and  died. 
He  had  forgotten  to  liberate  his  housekeeper  and  her 
daughter,  and,  as  he  was  a  bachelor,  his  estate  went  to  his 
next  of  kin,  the  elder  Princess  Chechevinski.  Between  the 
brother  and  sister  a  cordial  hatred  had  existed,  and  they 
had  not  seen  one  another  for  years. 

180 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krcstovski 

Coming  to  take  possession  of  the  estate,  Princess  Che- 
chevinski  carried  things  with  a  high  hand.  She  ordered 
the  housekeeper  to  the  cow  house,  and  carried  off  the  girl 
Natasha,  as  her  daughter's  maid,  to  St.  Petersburg,  from 
the  first  hour  letting  her  feel  the  lash  of  her  bitter  tongue 
and  despotic  will.  Natasha  had  tried  in  vain  to  dry  her 
mother's  tears.  With  growing  anger  and  sorrow  she 
watched  the  old  house  as  they  drove  away,  and  looking 
at  the  old  princess  she  said  to  herself,  "  I  hate  her!  I  hate 
her!  I  will  never  forgive  her!" 

Princess  Anna,  bidding  her  maid  good-by,  disappeared 
into  the  night.  The  next  morning  the  old  princess  learned 
of  the  flight.  Already  ill,  she  fell  fainting  to  the  floor, 
and  for  a  long  time  her  condition  was  critical.  She  re- 
gained consciousness,  tried  to  find  words  to  express  her 
anger,  and  again  swooned  away.  Day  and  night,  three 
women  watched  over  her,  her  son's  old  nurse,  her  maid, 
and  Natasha,  who  took  turns  in  waiting  on  her.  Things 
continued  thus  for  forty-eight  hours.  Finally,  on  the  night 
of  the  third  day  she  came  to  herself.  It  was  Natasha's 
watch. 

"And  you  knew?  You  knew  she  was  going?"  the  old 
princess  asked  her  fiercely. 

The  girl  started,  unable  at  first  jto  collect  her  thoughts, 
and  looked  up  frightened.  The  dim  flicker  of  the  night 
light  lit  her  pale  face  and  golden  hair,  and  fell  also  on  the 
grim,  emaciated  face  of  the  old  princess,  whose  eyes  glit- 
tered feverishly  under  her  thick  brows. 

"  You  knew  my  daughter  was  going  to  run  away?"  re- 
peated the  old  woman,  fixing  her  keen  eyes  on  Natasha's 
face,  trying  to  raise  herself  from  among  the  lace-fringed 
pillows. 

"  I  knew,"  the  girl  answered  in  a  half  whisper,  lowering 
her  eyes  in  confusion,  and  trying  to  throw  off  her  first  im- 
pression of  terror. 

"  Why  did  you  not  tell  me  before?  "  the  old  woman  con- 
tinued, even  more  fiercely. 

Natasha  had  now  recovered  her  composure,  and  rais- 
181 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

ing  her  eyes  with  an  expression  of  innocent  distress,  she 
answered : 

"  Princess  Anna  hid  everything  from  me  also,  until  the 
Ivery  last.  How  dare  I  tell  you?  Would  you  have  believed 
me?  It  was  not  my  business,  your  excellency!" 

The  old  princess  shook  her  head,  smiling  bitterly  and  in- 
credulously. 

"Snake!"  she  hissed  fiercely,  looking  at  the  girl;  and 
then  she  added  quickly: 

"  Did  any  of  the  others  know?  " 

"  No  one  but  myself!  "  answered  Natasha. 

"  Never  dare  to  speak  of  her  again !  Never  dare !  "  cried 
the  old  princess,  and  once  more  she  sank  back  unconscious 
on  the  pillows. 

About  noon  the  next  day  she  again  came  to  herself,  and 
ordered  her  son  to  be  called.  He  came  in  quietly,  and 
affectionately  approached  his  mother. 

The  princess  dismissed  her  maid,  and  remained  alone 
with  her  son. 

"You  have  no  longer  a  sister!"  she  cried,  turning  to 
her  son,  with  the  nervous  spasm  which  returned  each 
time  she  spoke  of  her  daughter.  "She  is  dead  for  us! 
She  has  disgraced  us!  I  curse  her!  You,  you  alone  are 
my  heir ! " 

At  these  words  the  young  prince  pricked  up  his  ears  and 
bent  even  more  attentively  toward  his  mother.  The  news 
of  his  sole  heirship  was  so  pleasant  and  unexpected  that  he 
did  not  even  think  of  asking  how  his  sister  had  disgraced 
them,  and  only  said  with  a  deep  sigh: 

"  Oh,  mamma,  she  was  always  opposed  to  you.  She 
never  loved  you !  " 

"  I  shall  make  a  will  in  your  favor,"  continued  the  prin- 
cess, telling  him  as  briefly  as  possible  of  Princess  Anna's 
flight.  "  Yes,  in  your  favor — only  on  one  condition :  that 
you  will  never  recognize  your  sister.  That  is  my  last 
wish!" 

"  Your  wish  is  sacred  to  me,"  murmured  her  son,  ten- 
derly kissing  her  hand.  He  had  always  been  jealous  and 

182 


Vsevokd  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

envious  of  his  sister,  and  was  besides  in  immediate  need 
of  money. 

The  princess  signed  her  will  that  same  day,  to  the  no 
small  satisfaction  of  her  dear  son,  who,  in  his  heart,  was 
wondering  how  soon  his  beloved  parent  would  pass  away, 
so  that  he  might  get  his  eyes  on  her  long-hoarded  wealth. 


II 

THE  LITHOGRAPHER'S  APPRENTICE 

LATER  on  the  same  day,  in  a  little  narrow  chamber  of 
one  of  the  huge,  dirty  tenements  on  Vosnesenski  Prospekt, 
sat  a  young  man  of  ruddy  complexion.  He  was  sitting 
at  a  table,  bending  toward  the  one  dusty  window,  and  at- 
tentively examining  a  white  twenty-five  ruble  note. 

The  room,  dusty  and  dark,  was  wretched  enough.  Two 
rickety  chairs,  a  torn  haircloth  sofa,  with  a  greasy  pillow, 
and  the  bare  table  at  the  window,  were  its  entire  furniture. 
Several  scattered  lithographs,  two  or  three  engravings,  two 
slabs  of  lithographer's  stone  on  the  table,  and  engraver's 
tools  sufficiently  showed  the  occupation  of  the  young  man. 
He  was  florid,  with  red  hair;  of  Polish  descent,  and  his 
name  was  Kasimir  Bodlevski.  On  the  wall,  over  the  sofa, 
between  the  overcoat  and  the  cloak  hanging  on  the  wall, 
was  a  pencil  drawing  of  a  young  girl.  It  was  the  portrait 
of  Natasha. 

The  young  man  was  so  absorbed  in  his  examination  of 
the  twenty-five  ruble  note  that  when  a  gentle  knock 
sounded  on  the  door  he  started  nervously,  as  if  coming 
back  to  himself,  and  even  grew  pale,  and  hurriedly  crushed 
the  banknote  into  his  pocket. 

The  knock  was  repeated — and  this  time  Bodlevski's  face 
lit  up.  It  was  evidently  a  well-known  and  expected  knock, 
for  he  sprang  up  and  opened  the  door  with  a  welcoming 
smile. 

Natasha  entered  the  room. 

183 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  What  were  you  dreaming  about  that  you  didn't  open 
the  door  for  me?"  she  asked  caressingly,  throwing  aside 
her  hat  and  cloak,  and  taking  a  seat  on  the  tumble-down 
sofa.  "What  were  you  busy  at?" 

"  You  know,  yourself." 

And  instead  of  explaining  further,  he  drew  the  bank- 
note from  his  pocket  and  showed  it  to  Natasha. 

"  This  morning  the  master  paid  me,  and  I  am  keeping 
the  money,"  he  continued  in  a  low  voice,  tilting  back  his 
chair.  "  I  pay  neither  for  my  rooms  nor  my  shop,  but 
sit  here  and  study  all  the  time." 

"  It's  so  well  worth  while,  isn't  it  ?  "  smiled  Natasha  with 
a  contemptuous  grimace. 

"  You  don't  think  it  is  worth  while  ? "  said  the  young 
man.  "Wait!  I'll  learn.  We'll  be  rich !" 

"Yes,  if  we  aren't  sent  to  Siberia!"  the  girl  laughed. 
"  What  kind  of  wealth  is  that  ?  "  she  went  on.  "  The  game 
is  not  worth  the  candle.  I'll  be  rich  before  you  are." 

"All  right,  go  ahead!" 

"  Go  ahead?  I  didn't  come  to  talk  nonsense,  I  came  on 
business.  You  help  me,  and,  on  my  word  of  honor,  we'll 
be  in  clover! " 

Bodlevski  looked  at  his  companion  in  astonishment. 

"  I  told  you  my  Princess  Anna  was  going  to  run  away. 
She's  gone !  And  her  mother  has  cut  her  off  from  the  in- 
heritance," Natasha  continued  with  an  exultant  smile.  "  I 
looked  through  the  scrap  basket,  and  have  brought  some 
papers  with  me." 

"  What  sort  of  papers?  " 

"  Oh,  letters  and  notes.  They  are  all  in  Princess  Anna's 
handwriting.  Shall  I  give  them  to  you?"  jested  Natasha. 
"  Have  a  good  look  at  them,  examine  them,  learn  her 
handwriting,  so  that  you  can  imitate  every  letter.  That 
kind  of  thing  is  just  in  your  line ;  you  are  a  first-class  copy- 
ist, so  this  is  just  the  job  for  you." 

The  engraver  listened,  and  only  shrugged  his  shoulders. 

"  No,  joking  aside,"  she  continued  seriously,  drawing 
nearer  Bodlevski,  "  I  have  thought  of  something  out  of  the 

184 


Vscvolod  Vladimir  ovitch  Krestovski 

common;  you  will  be  grateful.  I  have  no  time  to  explain 
it  all  now.  You  will  know  later  on.  The  main  thing 
is — learn  her  handwriting." 

"  But  what  is  it  all  for?"  said  Bodlevski  wonderingly. 

"  So  that  you  may  be  able  to  write  a  few  words  in  the 
handwriting  of  Princess  Anna;  what  you  have  to  write  I'll 
dictate  to  you." 

"And  then?" 

"  Then  hurry  up  and  get  me  a  passport  in  some  one 
else's  name,  and  have  your  own  ready.  But  learn  her 
handwriting.  Everything  depends  on  that!  " 

"  It  won't  be  easy.  I'll  hardly  be  able  to ! "  muttered 
Bodlevski,  scratching  his  head. 

Natasha  flared  up. 

"  You  say  you  love  me?"  she  cried  energetically,  with  a 
glance  of  anger.  "  Well,  then,  do  it.  Unless  you  are  tell- 
ing lies,  you  can  learn  to  do  banknotes." 

The  young  man  strode  up  and  down  his  den,  perplexed. 

"  How  soon  do  you  want  it?"  he  asked,  after  a  minute's 
thought.  "  In  a  couple  of  days?" 

"  Yes,  in  about  two  days,  not  longer,  or  the  whole  thing 
is  done  for!"  the  girl  replied  decisively.  "In  two  days 
I'll  come  for  the  writing,  and  be  sure  my  passport  is 
ready!" 

"  Very  well.  I'll  do  it,"  consented  Bodlevski.  And  Na- 
tasha began  to  dictate  to  him  the  wording  of  the  letter. 

As  soon  as  she  was  gone  the  engraver  got  to  work.  All 
the  evening  and  a  great  part  of  the  night  he  bent  over 
the  papers  she  had  brought,  examining  the  handwriting, 
studying  the  letters,  and  practicing  every  stroke  with  the 
utmost  care,  copying  and  repeating  it  a  hundred  times, 
until  at  last  he  had  reached  the  required  clearness.  At 
last  he  mastered  the  writing.  It  only  remained  to  give 
it  the  needed  lightness  and  naturalness.  His  head  rang 
from  the  concentration  of  blood  in  his  temples,  but  he  still 
worked  on. 

Finally,  when  it  was  almost  morning,  the  note  was  writ- 
ten, and  the  name  of  Princess  Anna  was  signed  to  it.  The 

185 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

work  was  a  masterpiece,  and  even  exceeded  Bodlevski's 
expectations.  Its  lightness  and  clearness  were  remarkable. 
The  engraver,  examining  the  writing  of  Princess  Anna, 
compared  it  with  his  own  work,  and  was  astonished,  so 
perfect  was  the  resemblance. 

And  long  he  admired  his  handiwork,  with  the  parental 
pride  known  to  every  creator,  and  as  he  looked  at  this  note 
he  for  the  first  time  fully  realized  that  he  was  an  artist. 


Ill 

THE    CAVE 

"  HALF  the  work  is  done !  "  he  cried,  jumping  from  the 
tumble-down  sofa.  "  But  the  passport  ?  There's  where 
the  shoe  pinches,"  continued  the  engraver,  remembering 
the  second  half  of  Natasha's  commission.  "  The  passport — 
yes — that's  where  the  shoe  pinches !  "  he  muttered  to  him- 
self in  perplexity,  resting  his  head  on  his  hands  and  his 
elbows  on  his  knees.  Thinking  over  all  kinds  of  possible 
and  impossible  plans,  he  suddenly  remembered  a  fellow 
countryman  of  his,  a  shoemaker  named  Yuzitch,  who  had 
once  confessed  in  a  moment  of  intoxication  that  "  he 
would  rather  hook  a  watch  than  patch  a  shoe."  Bodlevski 
remembered  that  three  months  before  he  had  met, Yuzitch 
in  the  street,  and  they  had  gone  together  to  a  wine  shop, 
where,  over  a  bottle  generously  ordered  by  Yuzitch,  Bod- 
levski had  lamented  over  the  hardships  of  mankind  in  gen- 
eral, and  his  own  in  particular.  He  had  not  taken  ad- 
vantage of  Yuzitch's  offer  to  introduce  him  to  "  the  gang," 
only  because  he  had  already  determined  to  take  up  one 
of  the  higher  branches  of  the  "  profession,"  namely,  to 
metamorphose  white  paper  into  banknotes.  When  they 
were  parting,  Yuzitch  had  warmly  wrung  his  hand,  saying : 

"  Whenever  you  want  anything,  dear  friend,  or  if  you 
just  want  to  see  me,  come  to  the  Cave ;  come  to  Razyeziy 
Street  and  ask  for  the  Cave,  and  at  the  Cave  anyone  will 

186 


Vscvolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

show  you  where  to  find  Yuzitch.  If  the  barkeeper  makes 
difficulties  just  whisper  to  him  that  '  Secret '  sent  you,  and 
he'll  show  you  at  once." 

As  this  memory  suddenly  flashed  into  his  mind,  Bodlev- 
ski  caught  up  his  hat  and  coat  and  hurried  downstairs 
into  the  street.  Making  his  way  through  the  narrow,  dirty 
streets  to  the  Five  Points,  he  stopped  perplexed.  Happily 
he  noticed  a  sleepy  watchman  leaning  leisurely  against  a 
wall,  and  going  up  to  him  he  said : 

"  Tell  me,  where  is  the  Cave  ?  " 

"  The  what  ?  "  asked  the  watchman  impatiently. 

"  The  Cave." 

"  The  Cave  ?  There  is  no  such  place !  "  he  replied,  look- 
ing suspiciously  at  Bodlevski. 

Bodlevski  put  his  hand  in  his  pocket  and  pulled  out  some 
small  change :  "  If  you  tell  me " 

The  watchman  brightened  up.  "  Why  didn't  you  say  so 
before  ?  "  he  asked,  grinning.  "  You  see  that  house,  the 
second  from  the  corner?  The  wooden  one?  That's  the 
Cave." 

Bodlevski  crossed  the  street  in  the  direction  indicated, 
and  looked  for  the  sign  over  the  door.  To  his  astonish- 
ment he  did  not  find  it  and  only  later  he  knew  that  the 
name  was  strictly  "  unofficial,"  only  used  by  members  of 
"  the  gang." 

Opening  the  door  cautiously,  Bodlevski  made  his  way 
into  the  low,  dirty  barroom.  Behind  the  bar  stood  a  tall, 
handsome  man  with  an  open  countenance  and  a  bald  head. 
Politely  bowing  to  Bodlevski,  with  his  eyes  rather  than 
his  head,  he  invited  him  to  enter  the  inner  room.  But 
Bodlevski  explained  that  he  wanted,  not  the  inner  room, 
but  his  friend  Yuzitch. 

"Yuzitch?"  said  the  barkeeper  thoughtfully.  "We 
don't  know  anyone  of  that  name." 

"  Why,  he's  here  all  the  time,"  cried  Bodlevski,  in  aston- 
ishment. 

"  Don't  know  him,"  retorted  the  barkeeper  imperturb- 
ably. 

187 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

" (  Secret '  sent  me !  "  Bodlevski  suddenly  exclaimed, 
without  lowering  his  voice. 

The  barkeeper  looked  at  him  sharply  and  suspiciously, 
and  then  asked,  with  a  smile: 

"Who  did  you  say?" 

"  '  Secret/  "  repeated  Bodlevski. 

After  a  while  the  barkeeper  said,  "  And  did  your — friend 
make  an  appointment  ?  " 

"  Yes,  an  appointment !  "  Bodlevski  replied,  beginning 
to  lose  patience. 

"  Well,  take  a  seat  in  the  inner  room,"  again  said  the 
barkeeper  slyly.  "  Perhaps  your  friend  will  come  in,  or 
perhaps  he  is  there  already/' 

Bodlevski  made  his  way  into  a  roomy  saloon,  with  five 
windows  with  faded  red  curtains.  The  ceiling  was  black 
from  the  smoke  of  hanging  lamps ;  little  square  tables  were 
dotted  about  the  floor;  their  covers  were  coarse  and  not 
above  reproach  on  the  score  of  cleanliness.  The  air  was 
pungent  with  the  odor  of  cheap  tobacco  and  cheaper  cigars. 
On  the  walls  were  faded  oleographs  of  generals  and  arch- 
bishops, flyblown  and  stained. 

Bodlevski,  little  as  he  was  used  to  refined  surroundings, 
found  his  gorge  rising.  At  some  of  the  little  tables  fur- 
tive, impudent,  tattered,  sleek  men  were  drinking. 

Presently  Yuzitch  made  his  appearance  from  a  low  door 
at  the  other  end  of  the  room.  The  meeting  of  the  two 
friends  was  cordial,  especially  on  Bodlevski's  side.  Pres- 
ently they  were  seated  at  a  table,  with  a  flask  of  wine  be- 
tween them,  and  Bodlevski  began  to  explain  what  he 
wanted  to  his  friend. 

As  soon  as  he  heard  what  was  wanted,  Yuzitch  took  on 
an  air  of  importance,  knit  his  brows,  hemmed,  and  hawed. 

"  I  can  manage  it/'  he  said  finally.  "  Yes,  we  can 
manage  it.  I  must  see  one  of  my  friends  about  it.  But  it's 
difficult.  It  will  cost  money." 

Bodlevski  immediately  assented.  Yuzitch  at  once  rose 
and  went  over  to  a  red-nosed  individual  in  undress  uni- 
form, who  was  poring  over  the  Police  News. 

188 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

"  Friend  Borisovitch,"  said  Yuzitch,  holding  out  his  hand 
to  him,  "  something  doing !  " 

"  Fair  or  foul  ?  "  asked  the  man  with  the  red  nose. 

"  Hang  your  cheek !  "  laughed  Yuzitch ;  "  if  I  say  it,  of 
course  it's  fair."  After  a  whispered  conference,  Yuzitch 
returned  to  Bodlevski  and  told  him  that  it  was  all  right; 
that  the  passport  for  Natasha  would  be  ready  by  the  next 
evening.  Bodlevski  paid  him  something  in  advance  and 
went  home  triumphantly. 

At  eleven  o'clock  the  next  evening  Bodlevski  once  more 
entered  the  large  room  at  the  Cave,  now  all  lit  up  and 
full  of  an  animated  crowd  of  men  and  women,  all  with 
the  same  furtive,  predatory  faces.  Bodlevski  felt  nervous. 
He  had  no  fears  while  turning  white  paper  into  banknotes 
in  the  seclusion  of  his  own  workshop,  but  he  was  full  of 
apprehensions  concerning  his  present  guest,  because  sev- 
eral people  had  to  be  let  into  the  secret. 

Yuzitch  presently  appeared  through  the  same  low  door 
and,  coming  up  to  Bodlevski,  explained  that  the  passport 
would  cost  twenty  rubles.  Bodlevski  paid  the  money  over 
in  advance,  and  Yuzitch  led  him  into  a  back  room.  On 
the  table  burned  a  tallow  candle,  which  hardly  lit  up  the 
faces  of  seven  people  who  were  grouped  round  it,  one  of 
them  being  the  red-nosed  man  who  was  reading  the  Police 
News.  The  seven  men  were  all  from  the  districts  of  Vilna 
and  Vitebsk,  and  were  specialists  in  the  art  of  fabricating 
passports. 

The  red-nosed  man  approached  Bodlevski :  "  We  must 
get  acquainted  with  each  other,"  he  said  amiably.  "  I 
have  the  honor  to  present  myself!"  and  he  bowed  low; 
"  Former  District  Secretary  Pacomius  Borisovitch  Prak- 
kin.  Let  me  request  you  first  of  all  to  order  some  vodka; 
my  hand  shakes,  you  know,"  he  added  apologetically.  "  I 
don't  want  it  so  much  for  myself  as  for  my  hand — to 
steady  it." 

Bodlevski  gave  him  some  change,  which  the  red-nosed 
man  put  in  his  pocket  and  at  once  went  to  the  sideboard 
for  a  flask  of  vodka  which  he  had  already  bought.  "  Let 

189 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

us  give  thanks !    And  now  to  business !  "  he  said,  smacking 
his  lips  after  a  glass  of  vodka. 

A  big,  red-haired  man,  one  of  the  group  of  seven, 
drew  from  his  pocket  two  vials.  In  one  was  a  sticky  black 
fluid ;  in  the  other,  something  as  clear  as  water. 

"  We  are  chemists,  you  see,"  the  red-nosed  man  ex- 
plained to  Bodlevski  with  a  grin,  and  then  added: 

"Finch!  on  guard!" 

A  young  man,  who  had  been  lolling  on  a  couch  in  the 
corner,  rose  and  took  up  a  position  outside  the  door. 

"  Now,  brothers,  close  up ! "  cried  the  red-nosed  man, 
and  all  stood  in  close  order,  elbow  to  elbow,  round  the 
table.  "  And  now  we  take  a  newspaper  and  have  it  handy 
on  the  table !  That  is  in  case,"  he  explained  to  Bodlevski, 
"  any  outsider  happened  in  on  us — which  Heaven  prevent ! 
We  aren't  up  to  anything  at  all ;  simply  reading  the  politi- 
cal news  !  You  catch  on  ?  " 

"  How  could  I  help  catching  on  ?  " 

"  Very  well.  And  now  let  us  make  everything  as  clear 
as  in  a  looking-glass.  What  class  do  you  wish  to  make  the 
person  belong  to  ?  The  commercial  or  the  nobility  ?  " 

"  I  think  the  nobility  would  be  best,"  said  Bodlevski. 

"  Certainly !  At  least  that  will  give  the  right  of  free 
passage  through  all  the  towns  and  districts  of  the  Russian 
Empire.  Let  us  see.  Have  we  not  something  that  will 
suit?" 

And  Pacomius  Borisovitch,  opening  his  portfolio,  filled 
with  all  kinds  of  passports,  certificates,  and  papers  of  iden- 
tification, began  to  turn  them  over,  but  without  taking  any 
out  of  the  portfolio.  All  with  the  same  thought — that  some 
stranger  might  come  in. 

"  Ha !  here's  a  new  one  !  Where  did  it  come  from  ?  "  he 
cried. 

"  I  got  it  out  of  a  new  arrival,"  muttered  the  red-headed 
man. 

"  Well  done !  Just  what  we  want !  And  a  noble's  pass- 
port, too!  It  is  evident  that  Heaven  is  helping  us.  See 
what  a  blessing  brings ! 

190 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

"  '  This  passport  is  issued  by  the  District  of  Yaroslav/  " 
he  continued  reading,  "  '  to  the  college  assessor's  widow, 
Maria  Solontseva,  with  permission  to  travel/  "  and  so  on  in 
due  form.  "  Did  you  get  it  here  ?  "  he  added,  turning  to 
the  red-headed  man. 

"  Came  from  Moscow !  " 

"Pinched?" 

"  Knocked  on  the  head !  "  briefly  replied  the  red-headed 
man. 

"  Knocked  on  the  head  ?  "  repeated  Pacomius  Boriso- 
vitch.  "  Serious  business.  Comes  under  sections  332  and 
727  of  the  Penal  Code." 

"  Driveling  again  !  "  cried  the  red-headed  man.  "  I'll 
teach  you  to  talk  about  the  Penal  Code !  "  and  rising  de- 
liberately, he  dealt  Pacomius  Borisovitch  a  well-directed 
blow  on  the  head,  which  sent  him  rolling  into  the  corner. 
Pacomius  picked  himself  up,  blinking  with  indignation. 

"  What  is  the  meaning  of  such  conduct  ? "  he  asked 
loftily. 

"  It  means,"  said  the  red-headed  man,  "  that  if  you  men- 
tion the  Penal  Code  again  I'll  knock  your  head  off !  " 

"  Brothers,  brothers !  "  cried  Yuzitch  in  a  good-humored 
tone ;  "  we  are  losing  precious  time  !  Forgive  him  !  "  he 
added,  turning  to  Pacomius.  "  You  must  forgive  him !  " 

"  I — forgive  him,"  answered  Pacomius,  but  the  light  in 
his  eye  showed  that  he  was  deeply  offended. 

"  Well,"  he  went  on,  addressing  Bodlevski,  "  will  it  suit 
you  to  have  the  person  pass  as  Maria  Solontseva,  widow 
of  a  college  assessor?  " 


IV 

THE  CAPTAIN  OF  THE  GOLDEN  BAND 

BODLEVSKI  had  not  time  to  nod  his  head  in  assent,  when 
suddenly  the  outer  door  was  pushed  quickly  open  and  a 
tall  man,  well  built  and  fair-haired,  stepped  swiftly  into 

191 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

the  room.     He  wore  a  military  uniform  and  gold-rimmed 
eyeglasses. 

The  company  turned  their  faces  toward  him  in  startled 
surprise,  but  no  one  moved.  All  continued  to  stand  in 
close  order  round  the  table. 

"  Health  to  you,  eaglets !  honorable  men  of  Vilna ! 
What  are  you  up  to?  What  are  you  busy  at?  "  cried  the 
newcomer,  swiftly  approaching  the  table  and  taking  the 
chair  that  Pacomius  Borisovitch  had  just  been  knocked 
out  of. 

"  What  is  all  this  ?  "  he  continued,  with  one  hand  seiz- 
ing the  vial  of  colorless  liquid  and  with  the  other  the 
photograph  of  the  college  assessor's  widow.  "  So  this  is 
hydrochloric  acid  for  erasing  ink  ?  Very  good !  And  this 
is  a  photo !  So  we  are  fabricating  passports  ?  Very  fine ! 
Business  is  business !  Hey!  Witnesses!" 

And  the  fair-haired  man  whistled  sharply.  From  the 
outer  door  appeared  two  faces,  set  on  shoulders  of  formi- 
dable proportions. 

The  red-headed  man  silently  went  up  to  the  newcomer 
and  fiercely  seized  him  by  the  collar.  At  the  same  mo- 
ment the  rest  seized  chairs  or  logs  or  bars  to  defend 
themselves.  • 

The  fair-haired  man  meanwhile,  not  in  the  least  chang- 
ing his  expression  of  cool  self-confidence,  quickly  slipped 
his  hands  into  his  pockets  and  pulled  out  a  pair  of  small 
double-barreled  pistols.  In  the  profound  silence  in  which 
this  scene  took  place  they  could  distinctly  hear  the  click 
of  the  hammers  as  he  cocked  them.  He  raised  his  right 
hand  and  pointed  the  muzzle  at  the  breast  of  his  opponent. 

The  red-headed  man  let  go  his  collar,  and  glancing  con- 
temptuously at  him,  with  an  expression  of  hate  and  wrath, 
silently  stepped  aside. 

"  How  much  must  we  pay  ?  "  he  asked  sullenly. 

"  Oho !  that's  better.  You  should  have  begun  by  ask- 
ing that ! "  answered  the  newcomer,  settling  himself  com- 
fortably on  his  chair  and  toying  with  his  pistols.  "  How 
much  do  you  earn  ?  " 

192 


Vsevolod  Vladimir  ovitch  Krcstovski 

"  We  get  little  enough !  Just  five  rubles,"  answered  the 
red-headed  man. 

"  That's  too  little.  I  need  a  great  deal  more.  But  you 
are  lying,  brother!  You  would  not  stir  for  less  than  twenty 
rubles ! " 

"  Thanks  for  the  compliment !  "  interrupted  Pacomius 
Borisovitch. 

The  fair-haired  man  nodded  to  him  satirically.  "  I  need 
a  lot  more/'  he  repeated  firmly  and  impressively ;  "  and 
if  you  don't  give  me  at  least  twenty-five  rubles  I'll  de- 
nounce you  this  very  minute  to  the  police — and  you  see  I 
have  my  witnesses  ready." 

"  Sergei  Antonitch !  Mr.  Kovroff !  Have  mercy  on  us ! 
Where  can  we  get  so  much  from?  I  tell  you  as  in  the 
presence  of  the  Creator !  There  are  ten  of  us,  as  you  see. 
And  there  are  three  of  you.  And  I,  Yuzitch,  and  Gretcka 
deserve  double  shares ! "  added  Pacomius  Borisovitch  per- 
suasively. 

"  Gretcka  deserves  nothing  at  all  for  catching  me  by 
the  throat,"  decided  Sergei  Antonitch  Kovroff. 

"  Mr.  Kovroff! "  began  Pacomius  again.  "  You  and  I 
are  gentlemen " 

"  What !  What  did  you  say  ?  "  Kovroff  contemptuously 
interrupted  him.  "  You  put  yourself  on  my  level  ?  Ha ! 
ha!  ha!  No,  brother;  I  am  still  in  the  Czar's  service  and 
wear  my  honor  with  my  uniform !  I,  brother,  have  never 
stained  myself  with  theft  or  crime,  Heaven  be  praised.  But 
what  are  you  ?  " 

"Hm!  And  the  Golden  Band?  Who  is  its  captain?" 
muttered  Gretcka  angrily,  half  to  himself. 

"  Who  is  its  captain  ?  I  am — I,  Lieutenant  Sergei  An- 
tonitch Kovroff,  of  the  Chernovarski  Dragoons!  Do  you 
hear?  I  am  captain  of  the  Golden  Band,"  he  said  proudly 
and  haughtily,  scrutinizing  the  company  with  his  confident 
gaze.  "  And  you  haven't  yet  got  as  far  as  the  Golden 
Band,  because  you  are  cowards  \  Chuproff,"  he  cried  to 
one  of  his  men,  "go  and  take  the  mask  off  Finch,  or  the 
poor  boy  will  suffocate,  and  untie  his  arms — and  give  him 

193 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

a  good  crack  on  the  head  to  teach  him  to  keep  watch 
better." 

The  "  mask  "  that  Kovroff  employed  on  such  occasions 
was  nothing  but  a  piece  of  oilcloth  cut  the  size  of  a  per- 
son's face,  and  smeared  on  one  side  with  a  thick  paste. 
KovrofFs  "  boys  "  employed  this  "  instrument  "  with  won- 
derful dexterity;  one  of  them  generally  stole  up  behind 
the  unconscious  victim  and  skillfully  slapped  the  mask  in 
his  face;  the  victim  at  once  became  dumb  and  blind,  and 
panted  from  lack  of  breath ;  at  the  same  time,  if  necessary, 
his  hands  were  tied  behind  him  and  he  was  leisurely 
robbed,  or  held,  as  the  case  might  be. 

The  Golden  Band  was  formed  in  the  middle  of  the 
thirties,  when  the  first  Nicholas  had  been  about  ten  years 
on  the  throne.  Its  first  founders  were  three  Polish  nobles. 
It  was  never  distinguished  by  the  number  of  its  members, 
but  everyone  of  them  could  honestly  call  himself  an  ac- 
complished knave,  never  stopping  at  anything  that  stood 
in  the  way  of  a  "  job."  The  present  head  of  the  band  was 
Lieutenant  Kovroff,  who  was  a  thorough-paced  rascal,  in 
the  full  sense  of  the  word.  Daring,  brave,  self-confident, 
he  also  possessed  a  handsome  presence,  good  manners,  and 
the  worldly  finish  known  as  education.  Before  the  mem- 
bers of  the  Golden  Band,  and  especially  before  Kovroff,  the 
small  rascals  stood  in  fear  and  trembling.  He  had  his 
secret  agents  everywhere,  following  every  move  of  the 
crooks  quietly  but  pertinaciously.  At  the  moment  when 
some  big  job  was  being  pulled  off,  Kovroff  suddenly  ap- 
peared unexpectedly,  with  some  of  his  "  boys,"  and 
demanded  a  contribution,  threatening  instantly  to  inform 
the  police  if  he  did  not  get  it — and  the  rogues,  in  order 
to  "  keep  him  quiet,"  had  to  give  him  whatever  share  of 
their  plunder  he  graciously  deigned  to  indicate.  Acting 
with  extraordinary  skill  and  acumen  in  all  his  undertak- 
ings he  always  managed  so  that  not  a  shadow  of  suspi- 
cion could  fall  on  himself  and  so  he  got  a  double  share  of 
the  plunder:  robbing  the  honest  folk  and  the  rogues  at 
the  same  time.  Kovroff  escaped  the  contempt  of  the 

194 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

crooks  because  he  did  things  on  such  a  big  scale  and  em- 
barked with  his  Golden  Band  on  the  most  desperate  and 
dangerous  enterprises  that  the  rest  of  roguedom  did  not 
even  dare  to  consider. 

The  rogues,  whatever  their  rank,  have  a  great  respect 
for  daring,  skill,  and  force — and  therefore  they  respected 
Kovroff,  at  the  same  time  fearing  and  detesting  him. 

"  Who  are  you  getting  that  passport  for  ?  "  he  asked, 
calmly  taking  the  paper  from  the  table  and  slipping  it  into 
his  pocket.  Gretcka  nodded  toward  Bodlevski. 

"  Aha !  for  you,  is  it  ?  Very  glad  to  hear  it ! "  said 
Kovroff,  measuring  him  with  his  eyes.  "  And  so,  gentle- 
men, twenty-five  rubles,  or  good-by — to  our  happy  meet- 
ing in  the  police  court !  " 

"  Mr.  Kovroff !  Allow  me  to  speak  to  you  as  a  man  of 
honor !  "  Pacomius  Borisovitch  again  interrupted.  "  We 
are  only  getting  twenty  rubles  for  the  job.  The  whole 
gang  will  pledge  their  words  of  honor  to  that.  Do  you 
think  we  would  lie  to  you  and  stain  the  honor  of  the 
gang  for  twenty  measly  rubles  ?  " 

"  That  is  business.  That  was  well  said.  I  love  a  good 
speech,  and  am  always  ready  to  respect  it,"  remarked 
Sergei  Antonitch  approvingly. 

"  Very  well,  then,  see  for  yourself,"  went  on  the  red- 
nosed  Pacomius,  "  see  for  yourself.  If  we  give  you  every- 
thing, we  are  doing  our  work  and  not  getting  a  kopeck ! " 

"  Let  him  pay,"  answered  Kovroff,  turning  his  eyes  to- 
ward Bodlevski. 

Bodlevski  took  out  his  gold  watch,  his  only  inheritance 
from  his  father,  and  laid  it  down  on  the  table  before  Kov- 
roff, with  the  five  rubles  that  remained. 

Kovroff  again  measured  him  with  his  eyes  and  smiled. 

"  You  are  a  worthy  young  man !  "  he  said.  "  Give  me 
your  hand!  I  see  that  you  will  go  far." 

And  he  warmly  pressed  the  engraver's  hand.  "  But 
you  must  know  for  the  future,"  he  added  in  a  friendly  but 
impressive  way,  "  that  I  never  take  anything  but  money 
when  I  am  dealing  with  these  fellows.  Ho,  you! "  he  went 

195 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

on,  turning  to  the  company,  "  some  one  go  to  uncle's  and 
get  cash  for  this  watch;  tell  him  to  pay  conscientiously 
at  least  two  thirds  of  what  it  is  worth;  it  is  a  good  watch. 
It  would  cost  sixty  rubles  to  buy.  And  have  a  bottle  of 
champagne  got  ready  for  me  at  the  bar,  quick !  And  if  you 
don't,  it  will  be  the  worse  for  you !  "  he  called  after  the 
departing  Yuzitch,  who  came  back  a  few  minutes  later,  and 
gave  Kovroff  forty  rubles.  Kovroff  counted  them,  and 
put  twenty  in  his  pocket,  returning  the  remainder  in  silence, 
but  with  a  gentlemanly  smile,  to  Bodlevski. 

"  Fair  exchange  is  no  robbery,"  he  said,  giving  Bodlev- 
ski the  passport  of  the  college  assessor's  widow.  "  Now 
that  old  rascal  Pacomius  may  get  to  work." 

"What  is  there  to  do?"  laughed  Pacomius;  "the  pass- 
port will  do  very  well.  So  let  us  have  a  little  glass,  and 
then  a  little  game  of  cards." 

"We  are  going  to  know  each  other  better;  I  like  your 
face,  so  I  hope  we  shall  make  friends,"  said  Kovroff,  again 
shaking  hands  with  Bodlevski.  "  Now  let  us  go  and  have 
some  wine.  You  will  tell  me  over  our  glasses  what  you 
want  the  passport  for,  and  on  account  of  your  frankness 
about  the  watch>  I  am  well  disposed  to  you.  Lieutenant 
Sergei  Kovroff  gives  you  his  word  of  honor  on  that.  I 
also  can  be  magnanimous,"  he  concluded,  and  the  new 
friends  accompanied  by  the  whole  gang  went  out  to  the 
large  hall. 

There  began  a  scene  of  revelry  that  lasted  till  long  after 
midnight.  Bodlevski,  feeling  his  side  pocket  to  see  if  the 
passport  was  still  there,  at  last  left  the  hall,  bewildered, 
as  though  under  a  spell.  He  felt  a  kind  of  gloomy  satisfac- 
tion; he  was  possessed  by  this  satisfaction,  by  the  uncer- 
tainty of  what  Natasha  could  have  thought  out,  by  the 
question  how  it  would  all  turn  out,  and  by  the  conviction 
that  his  first  crime  had  already  been  committed.  All  these 
feelings  lay  like  lead  on  his  heart,  while  in  his  ears  re- 
sounded the  wild  songs  of  the  Cave. 


196 


Vsevolod  Vladimir  ovitch  Krestovski 


V 


THE    KEYS   OF   THE   OLD   PRINCESS 

IT  was  nine  o'clock  in  the  evening.  Natasha  lit  the  night 
lamp  in  the  bedroom  of  the  old  Princess  Chechevinski,  and 
went  silently  into  the  dressing  room  to  prepare  the  sooth- 
ing powders  which  the  doctors  had  prescribed  for  her, 
before  going  to  sleep. 

The  old  princess  was  still  very  weak.  Although  her 
periods  of  unconsciousness  had  not  returned,  she  was  still 
subject  to  paroxysms  of  hysteria.  At  times  she  sank  into 
forgetfulness,  then  started  nervously,  sometimes  trembling 
in  every  limb.  The  thought  of  the  blow  of  her  daughter's 
flight  never  left  her  for  a  moment. 

Natasha  had  just  taken  the  place  of  the  day  nurse.  It 
was  her  turn  to  wait  on  the  patient  until  midnight.  Silence 
always  reigned  in  the  house  of  the  princess,  and  now  that 
she  was  ill  the  silence  was  intensified  tenfold.  Everyone 
walked  on  tiptoe,  and  spoke  in  whispers,  afraid  even  of 
coughing  or  of  clinking  a  teaspoon  on  the  sideboard.  The 
doorbells  were  tied  in  towels,  and  the  whole  street  in  front 
of  the  house  was  thickly  strewn  with  straw.  At  ten  the 
household  was  already  dispersed,  and  preparing  for  sleep. 
Only  the  nurse  sat  silently  at  the  head  of  the  old  lady's 
bed. 

Pouring  out  half  a  glass  of  water,  Natasha  sprinkled  the 
powder  in  it,  and  took  from  the  medicine  chest  a  phial  with 
a  yellowish  liquid.  It  was  chloral.  Looking  carefully 
round,  she  slowly  brought  the  lip  of  the  phial  down  to 
the  edge  of  the  glass  and  let  ten  drops  fall  into  it.  "  That 
will  be  enough,"  she  said  to  herself,  and  smiled.  Her  face, 
as  always,  was  coldly  quiet,  and  not  the  slightest  shade 
of  any  feeling  was  visible  on  it  at  that  moment. 

Natasha  propped  the  old  lady  up  with  her  arm.  She 
drank  the  medicine  given  to  her  and  lay  down  again,  and 
in  a  few  minutes  the  chloral  began  to  have  its  effect.  With 

197 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

an  occasional  convulsive  movement  of  her  lower  lip,  she 
sank  into  a  deep  and  heavy  sleep.  Natasha  watched  her 
face  following  the  symptoms  of  unconsciousness,  and  when 
she  was  convinced  that  sleep  had  finally  taken  complete 
possession  of  her,  and  that  for  several  hours  the  old  woman 
was  deprived  of  the  power  to  hear  anything  or  to  wake  up, 
she  slowly  moved  her  chair  nearer  the  bedstead,  and  with- 
out taking  her  quietly  observant  eyes  from  the  old  woman's 
face,  softly  slipped  her  hand  under  the  lower  pillow.  Mov- 
ing forward  with  the  utmost  care,  not  more  than  an  inch 
or  so  at  a  time,  her  hand  stopped  instantly,  as  soon  as 
there  was  the  slightest  nervous  movement  of  the  old 
woman's  face,  on  which  Natasha's  eyes  were  fixed  immov- 
ably. But  the  old  woman  slept  profoundly,  and  the  hand 
again  moved  forward  half  an  inch  or  so  under  the  pillow. 
About  half  an  hour  passed,  and  the  girl's  eyes  were  still 
fastened  on  the  sleeping  face,  and  her  hand  was  still  slip- 
ping forward  under  the  pillow,  moving  occasionally  a  little 
to  one  side,  and  feeling  about  for  something.  Natasha's 
expression  was  in  the  highest  degree  quiet  and  concen- 
trated, but  under  this  quietness  was  at  the  same  time  con- 
cealed something  else,  which  gave  the  impression  that  if 
— which  Heaven  forbid! — the  old  woman  should  at  that 
moment  awake,  the  other  free  hand  would  instantly  seize 
her  by  the  throat. 

At  last  the  finger-ends  felt  something  hard.  "  That  is 
it ! "  thought  Natasha,  and  she  held  her  breath.  In  a  mo- 
ment, seizing  its  treasure,  her  hand  began  quietly  to  with- 
draw. Ten  minutes  more  passed,  and  Natasha  finally  drew 
out  a  little  bag  of  various  colored  silks,  in  which  the  old 
princess  always  kept  her  keys,  and  from  which  she  never 
parted,  carrying  it  by  day  in  her  pocket,  and  by  night 
keeping  it  under  her  pillow.  One  of  the  keys  was  an 
ordinary  one,  that  of  her  wardrobe.  The  other  was  smaller 
and  finely  made;  it  was  the  key  of  her  strong  box. 

About  an  hour  later,  the  same  keys,  in  the  same  order, 
and  with  the  same  precautions,  found  their  way  back  to 
their  accustomed  place  under  the  old  lady's  pillow. 

108 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

Natasha  carefully  wiped  the  glass  with  her  handker- 
chief, in  order  that  not  the  least  odor  of  chloral  might  re- 
main in  it,  and  with  her  usual  stillness  sat  out  the  remain- 
ing hours  of  her  watch. 


VI 


REVENGED 

THE  old  princess  awoke  at  one  o'clock  the  next  day. 
The  doctor  was  very  pleased  at  her  long  and  sound  sleep, 
the  like  of  which  the  old  lady  had  not  enjoyed  since  her 
first  collapse,  and  which,  in  his  view,  was  certain  to  presage 
a  turn  for  the  better. 

The  princess  had  long  ago  formed  a  habit  of  looking  over 
her  financial  documents,  and  verifying  the  accounts  of  in- 
come and  expenditure.  This  deep-seated  habit,  which  had 
become  a  second  nature,  did  not  leave  her,  now  she  was  ill ; 
at  any  rate,  every  morning,  as  soon  as  consciousness  and 
tranquillity  returned  to  her,  she  took  out  the  key  of  her 
wardrobe,  ordered  the  strong  box  to  be  brought  to  her, 
and,  sending  the  day  nurse  out  of  the  room,  gave  herself 
up  in  solitude  to  her  beloved  occupation,  which  had  by  this 
time  become  something  like  a  childish  amusement.  She 
drew  out  her  bank  securities,  signed  and  unsigned,  now 
admiring  the  colored  engravings  on  them,  now  sorting 
and  rearranging  them,  fingering  the  packets  to  feel  their 
thickness,  counting  them  over,  and  several  thousands  in 
banknotes,  kept  in  the  house  in  case  of  need,  and  finally 
carefully  replaced  them  in  the  strong  box.  The  girl,  re- 
called to  the  bedroom  by  the  sound  of  the  bell,  restored  the 
strong  box  to  its  former  place,  and  the  old  princess,  after 
this  amusement,  felt  herself  for  some  time  quiet  and  happy. 

The  nurses  had  had  the  opportunity  to  get  pretty  well 
used  to  this  foible;  so  that  the  daily  examination  of  the 
strong  box  seemed  to  them  a  part  of  the  order  of  things, 
something  consecrated  by  custom. 

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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

After  taking  her  medicine,  and  having  her  hands  and 
face  wiped  with  a  towel  moistened  with  toilet  water,  the 
princess  ordered  certain  prayers  to  be  read  out  to  her, 
or  the  chapter  of  the  Gospel  appointed  for  the  day,  and 
then  received  her  son.  From  the  time  of  her  illness — that 
is,  from  the  day  when  she  signed  the  will  making  him  her 
sole  heir — he  had  laid  it  on  himself  as  a  not  altogether 
pleasant  duty  to  put  in  an  appearance  for  five  minutes 
in  his  mother's  room,  where  he  showed  himself  a  dutiful 
son  by  never  mentioning  his  sister,  but  asking  tenderly 
after  his  mother's  health,  and  finally,  with  a  deep  sigh, 
gently  kissing  her  hand,  taking  his  departure  forthwith, 
to  sup  with  some  actress  or  to  meet  his  companions  in 
a  wine  shop. 

When  he  soon  went  away,  the  old  lady,  as  was  her  habit, 
ordered  her  strong  box  to  be  brought,  and  sent  the  nurse 
out  of  the  room.  It  was  a  very  handsome  box  of  ebony, 
with  beautiful  inlaid  work. 

The  key  clicked  in  the  lock,  the  spring  lid  sprang  up, 
and  the  eyes  of  the  old  princess  became  set  in  their  sockets, 
full  of  bewilderment  and  terror.  Twenty-four  thousand 
rubles  in  bills,  which  she  herself  with  her  own  hands  had 
yesterday  laid  on  the  top  of  the  other  securities,  were 
no  longer  in  the  strong  box.  All  the  unsigned  bank  se- 
curities were  also  gone.  The  securities  in  the  name  of  her 
daughter  Anna  had  likewise  disappeared.  There  remained 
only  the  signed  securities  in  the  name  of  the  old  princess 
and  her  son,  and  a  few  shares  of  stock.  In  the  place  of  all 
that  was  gone,  there  lay  a  note  directed  "  to  Princess 
Chechevinski." 

The  old  lady's  fingers  trembled  so  that  for  a  long  time 
she  could  not  unfold  this  paper.  Her  staring  eyes  wan- 
dered hither  and  thither  as  if  she  had  lost  her  senses. 
At  last  she  managed  somehow  to  unfold  the  note,  and  be- 
gan to  read: 

"  You  cursed  me,  forced  me  to  flee,  and  unjustly  de- 
prived me  of  my  inheritance.  I  am  taking  my  money  by 

200 


Vsevolod  Vladimir  witch  Krestovski 

force.     You  may  inform  the  police,  but  when  you  read 
this  note,  I  myself  and  he  who  carried  out  this  act  by  my 
directions,  will  have  left  St.  Petersburg  forever. 
"  Your  daughter, 

"  PRINCESS  ANNA  CHECHEVINSKI." 

The  old  lady's  hands  did  not  fall  at  her  sides,  but  shifted 
about  on  her  lap  as  if  they  did  not  belong  to  her.  Her 
wandering,  senseless  eyes  stopped  their  movements,  and  in 
them  suddenly  appeared  an  expression  of  deep  meaning. 
The  old  princess  made  a  terrible,  superhuman  effort  to  re- 
cover her  presence  of  mind  and  regain  command  over  her- 
self. A  single  faint  groan  broke  from  her  breast,  and  her 
teeth  chattered.  She  began  to  look  about  the  room  for  a 
light,  but  the  lamp  had  been  extinguished;  the  dull  gray 
daylight  filtering  through  the  Venetian  blinds  sufficiently 
lit  the  room.  Then  the  old  lady,  with  a  strange,  irregular 
movement,  crushed  the  note  together  in  her  hand,  placed 
it  in  her  mouth,  and  with  a  convulsive  movement  of  her 
jaws  chewed  it,  trying  to  swallow  it  as  quickly  as  possible. 

A  minute  passed,  and  the  note  had  disappeared.  The 
old  princess  closed  the  strong  box  and  rang  for  the  day 
nurse.  Giving  her  the  usual  order  in  a  quiet  voice,  she 
had  still  strength  enough  to  support  herself  on  her  elbow 
and  watch  the  nurse  closing  the  wardrobe,  and  then  to  put 
the  little  bag  with  the  keys  back  under  her  pillow,  in  its 
accustomed  place.  Then  she  again  ordered  the  nurse  to  go. 

When,  two  hours  later,  the  doctor,  coming  for  the  third 
time,  wished  to  see  his  patient  and  entered  her  bedroom,  he 
found  only  the  old  woman's  lifeless  body.  The  blow  had 
been  too  much — the  daughter  of  the  ancient  and  ever  hon- 
orable line  of  Chechevinski  a  fugitive  and  a  thief! 

Natasha  had  had  her  revenge. 


20 1 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 
VII 

BEYOND   THE   FRONTIER 

ON  the  morning  of  that  same  day,  at  nine  o'clock,  a  well- 
dressed  lady  presented  at  the  Bank  of  Commerce  a  number 
of  unsigned  bank  shares.  At  the  same  time  a  young  man, 
also  elegantly  dressed,  presented  a  series  of  signed  shares, 
made  out  in  the  name  of  "  Princess  Anna  Chechevinski." 
They  were  properly  indorsed,  the  signature  corresponding 
to  that  in  the  bank  books. 

After  a  short  interval  the  cashier  of  the  bank  paid  over 
to  the  well-dressed  lady  a  hundred  and  fifty  thousand 
rubles  in  bills,  and  to  the  elegantly  dressed  young  man 
seventy  thousand  rubles.  The  lady  signed  her  receipt  in 
French,  Teresa  Dore;  the  young  man  signed  his  name, 
Ivan  Afonasieff,  son  of  a  merchant  of  Kostroma. 

A  little  latej  on  the  same  day — namely,  about  two  o'clock 
— a  light  carriage  carried  two  passengers  along  the  Par- 
goloff  road :  a  quietly  dressed  young  woman  and  a  quietly 
dressed  young  man.  Toward  evening  these  same  young 
people  were  traveling  in  a  Finnish  coach  by  the  stony 
mountain  road  in  the  direction  of  Abo. 

Four  days  later  the  old  Princesss  Chechevinski  was  bur- 
ied in  the  Nevski  monastery. 

On  his  return  from  the  monastery,  young  Prince  Che- 
chevinski went  straight  for  the  strong  box,  which  he  had 
hitherto  seen  only  at  a  distance,  and  even  then  only  rarely. 
He  expected  to  find  a  great  deal  more  money  in  it  than 
he  found — some  hundred  and  fifty  thousand  rubles ;  a  hun- 
dred thousand  in  his  late  mother's  name,  and  fifty  thou- 
sand in  his  own.  This  was  the  personal  property  of  the 
old  princess,  a  part  of  her  dowry.  The  young  prince  made 
a  wry  face — the  money  might  last  him  two  or  three  years, 
not  more.  During  the  lifetime  of  the  old  princess  no  one 
had  known  accurately  how  much  she  possessed,  so  that  it 
never  even  entered  the  young  prince's  head  to  ask  whether 

202 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

she  had  not  had  more.  He  was  so  unmethodical  that  he 
never  even  looked  into  her  account  book,  deciding  that  it 
was  uninteresting  and  not  worth  while. 

That  same  day  the  janitor  of  one  of  the  huge,  dirty 
tenements  in  Vosnesenski  Prospekt  brought  to  the  police 
office  notice  of  the  fact  that  the  Pole,  Kasimir  Bodlevski, 
had  left  the  city ;  and  the  housekeeper  of  the  late  Prin- 
cess Chechevinski  informed  the  police  that  the  serf  girl 
Natalia  Pavlovna  (Natasha)  had  disappeared  without  leav- 
ing a  trace,  which  the  housekeeper  now  announced,  as  the 
three  days'  limit  had  elapsed. 

At  that  same  hour  the  little  ship  of  a  certain  Finnish  cap- 
tain was  gliding  down  the  Gulf  of  Bothnia.  The  Finn  stood 
at  the  helm  and  his  young  son  handled  the  sails.  On  the  deck 
sat  a  young  man  and  a  young  woman.  The  young  woman 
carried,  in  a  little  bag  hung  round  her  neck,  two  hundred 
and  forty-four  thousand  rubles  in  bills,  and  she  and  her 
companion  carried  pistols  in  their  pockets  for  use  in  case 
of  need.  Their  passports  declared  that  the  young  woman 
belonged  to  the  noble  class,  and  was  the  widow  of  a  college 
assessor,  her  name  being  Maria  Solontseva,  while  the  young 
man  was  a  Pole,  Kasimir  Bodlevski. 

The  little  ship  was  crossing  the  Gulf  of  Bothnia  toward 
the  coast  of  Sweden. 

VIII 

BACK  TO  RUSSIA 

IN  the  year  1858,  in  the  month  of  September,  the  "  Re- 
port of  the  St.  Petersburg  City  Police  "  among  the  names 
of  "  Arrivals  "  included  the  following: 

Baroness  von  Dbring,  Hanoverian  subject. 
Ian  Vladislav  Karozitch,  Austrian  subject. 

The  persons  above  described  might  have  been  recognized 
among  the  fashionable  crowds  which  thronged  the  St.  Pe- 

203 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

tersburg  terminus  of  the  Warsaw  railway  a  few  days  before : 
A  lady  who  looked  not  more  than  thirty,  though  she  was 
really  thirty-eight,  dressed  with  simple  elegance,  tall  and 
slender,  admirably  developed,  with  beautifully  clear  com- 
plexion, piercing,  intelligent  gray  eyes,  under  finely  out- 
lined brows,  thick  chestnut  hair,  and  a  firm  mouth — 
almost  a  beauty,  and  with  an  expression  of  power,  sub- 
tlety and  decision.  "  She  is  either  a  queen  or  a  criminal," 
a  physiognomist  would  have  said  after  observing  her 
face.  A  gentleman  with  a  red  beard,  whom  the  lady 
addressed  as  "  brother,"  not  less  elegantly  dressed,  and 
with  the  same  expression  of  subtlety  and  decision.  They 
left  the  station  in  a  hired  carriage,  and  drove  to  Demuth's 
Hotel. 

Before  narrating  the  adventures  of  these  distinguished 
persons,  let  us  go  back  twenty  years,  and  ask  what  became 
of  Natasha  and  Bodlevski.  When  last  we  saw  them  the 
ship  that  carried  them  away  from  Russia  was  gliding  across 
the  Gulf  of  Bothnia  toward  the  Swedish  coast.  Late  in  the 
evening  it  slipped  into  the  port  of  Stockholm,  and  the 
worthy  Finn,  winding  in  and  out  among  the  heavy  hulls 
in  the  harbor — he  was  well  used  to  the  job — landed  his 
passengers  on  the  wharf  at  a  lonely  spot  near  a  lonely  inn, 
where  the  customs  officers  rarely  showed  their  noses.  Bod- 
levski, who  had  beforehand  got  ready  the  very  modest  sum 
to  pay  for  their  passage,  with  pitiable  looks  and  gestures 
and  the  few  Russian  phrases  the  good  Finn  could  under- 
stand, assured  him  that  he  was  a  very  poor  man,  and  could 
not  even  pay  the  sum  agreed  on  in  full.  The  deficit  was 
inconsiderable,  some  two  rubles  in  all,  and  the  good  Finn 
was  magnanimous ;  he  slapped  his  passenger  on  the  shoul- 
der, called  him  a  "  good  comrade,"  declared  that  he  would 
not  press  a  poor  man,  and  would  always  be  ready  to  do 
him  a  service.  He  even  found  quarters  for  Bodlevski  and 
Natasha  in  the  inn,  under  his  protection.  The  Finn  was 
indeed  a  very  honest  smuggler.  On  the  next  morning,  bid- 
ding a  final  farewell  to  their  nautical  friend,  our  couple 
made  their  way  to  the  office  of  the  British  Consul,  and  asked 

204 


Vsevolod  Vladimir "witch  Krcstovski 

for  an  opportunity  to  speak  with  him.  At  this  point  Na- 
tasha played  the  principal  role. 

"  My  husband  is  a  Pole,"  said  the  handsome  girl,  taking 
a  seat  opposite  the  consul  in  his  private  office,  "  and  I  my- 
self am  Russian  on  the  father's  side,  but  my  mother  was 
English.  My  husband  is  involved  in  a  political  enterprise ; 
he  was  liable  to  transportation  to  Siberia,  but  a  chance 
made  it  possible  for  us  to  escape  while  the  police  were  on 
their  way  to  arrest  him.  We  are  now  political  fugitives, 
and  we  intrust  our  lives  to  the  protection  of  English  law. 
Be  generous,  protect  us,  and  send  us  to  England !  " 

The  ruse,  skillfully  planned  and  admirably  presented,  was 
completely  successful,  and  two  or  three  days  later  the  first 
passenger  ship  under  the  English  flag  carried  the  happy 
couple  to  London. 

Bodlevski  destroyed  his  own  passport  and  that  of  the 
college  assessor's  widow,  Maria  Solontseva,  which  Natasha 
had  needed  as  a  precaution  while  still  on  Russian  soil. 
When  they  got  to  England,  it  would  be  much  handier  to 
take  new  names.  But  with  their  new  position  and  these 
new  names  a  great  difficulty  presented  itself:  they  could 
find  no  suitable  outlet  for  their  capital  without  arousing 
very  dangerous  suspicions.  The  many-sided  art  of  the  Lon- 
don rogues  is  known  to  all  the  world;  in  their  club,  Bod- 
levski, who  had  lost  no  time  in  making  certain  pleasant  and 
indispensable  acquaintances  there,  soon  succeeded  in  get- 
ting for  himself  and  Natasha  admirably  counterfeited  new 
passports,  once  more  with  new  names  and  occupations.  With 
these,  in  a  short  time,  they  found  their  way  to  the  Conti- 
nent. They  both  felt  the  full  force  of  youth  and  a  passion- 
ate desire  to  live  and  enjoy  life ;  in  their  hot  heads  hummed 
many  a  golden  hope  and  plan ;  they  wished,  to  begin  with, 
to  invest  their  main  capital  somewhere,  and  then  to  travel 
over  Europe,  and  to  choose  a  quiet  corner  somewhere  where 
they  could  settle  down  to  a  happy  life. 

Perhaps  all  this  might  have  happened  if  it  had  not  been 
for  cards  and  roulette  and  the  perpetual  desire  of  increasing 
their  capital — for  the  worthy  couple  fell  into  the  hands  of  a 

205 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

talented  company,  whose  agents  robbed  them  at  Frascati's 
in  Paris,  and  again  in  Hamburg  and  various  health  resorts, 
so  that  hardly  a  year  had  passed  when  Bodlevski  one  fine 
night  woke  up  to  the  fact  that  they  no  longer  possessed  a 
ruble.  But  they  had  passed  a  brilliant  year,  their  arrival 
in  the  great  cities  had  had  its  effect,  and  especially  since 
Natasha  had  become  a  person  of  title ;  in  the  course  of  the 
year  she  succeeded  in  purchasing  an  Austrian  barony  at 
a  very  reasonable  figure — a  barony  which,  of  course,  only 
existed  on  paper. 

When  all  his  money  was  gone,  there  was  nothing  left 
for  Bodlevski  but  to  enroll  himself  a  member  of  the  com- 
pany which  had  so  successfully  accomplished  the  transfer 
of  his  funds  to  their  own  pockets.  Natasha's  beauty  and 
Bodlevski's  brains  were  such  strong  arguments  that  the 
company  willingly  accepted  them  as  new  recruits.  The  two 
paid  dear  for  their  knowledge,  it  is  true,  but  their  knowl- 
edge presently  began  to  bear  fruit  in  considerable  abun- 
dance. Day  followed  day,  and  year  succeeded  year,  a  long 
series  of  horribly  anxious  nights,  violent  feelings,  mental 
perturbations,  crafty  and  subtle  schemes,  a  complete  cycle 
of  rascalities,  an  entire  science  of  covering  up  tracks,  and 
the  perpetual  shadow  of  justice,  prison,  and  perhaps  the 
scaffold.  Bodlevski,  with  his  obstinate,  persistent,  and  con- 
centrated character,  reached  the  highest  skill  in  card-sharp- 
ing and  the  allied  wiles.  All  games  of  "  chance  "  were  for 
him  games  of  skill.  At  thirty  he  looked  at  least  ten  years 
older.  The  life  he  led,  with  its  ceaseless  effort,  endless 
mental  work,  perpetual  anxiety,  had  made  of  him  a  fanati- 
cal worshiper  at  the  shrine  of  trickery.  He  dried  up  vis- 
ibly in  body  and  grew  old  in  mind,  mastering  all  the  dif- 
ficult arts  of  his  profession,  and  only  gained  confidence 
and  serenity  when  he  had  reached  the  highest  possible 
skill  in  every  branch  of  his  "work."  From  that  mo- 
ment he  took  a  new  lease  of  life;  he  grew  younger,  he 
became  gay  and  self-confident,  his  health  even  visibly  im- 
proved, and  he  assumed  the  air  and  manner  of  a  perfect 
gentleman. 

206 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krcstovski 

As  for  Natasha,  her  life  and  efforts  in  concert  with  Bod- 
levski  by  no  means  had  the  same  wearing  effect  on  her  as 
on  him.  Her  proud,  decided  nature  received  all  these  im- 
pressions quite  differently.  She  continued  to  blossom  out, 
to  grow  handsomer,  to  enjoy  life,  to  take  hearts  captive. 
All  the  events  which  aroused  so  keen  a  mental  struggle  in 
her  companion  she  met  with  entire  equanimity.  The  reason 
was  this :  When  she  made  up  her  mind  to  anything,  she  al- 
ways decided  at  once  and  with  unusual  completeness ;  a 
very  short  time  given  to  keen  and  accurate  consideration, 
a  rapid  weighing  of  the  gains  and  losses  of  the  matter  in 
hand,  and  then  she  went  forward  coldly  and  unswervingly 
on  her  chosen  path.  Her  first  aim  in  life  had  been  revenge, 
then  a  brilliant  and  luxurious  life — and  she  knew  that  they 
would  cost  dear.  Therefore,  once  embarked  on  her  under- 
taking, Natasha  remained  calm  and  indifferent,  brilliantly 
distinguished,  and  ensnaring  the  just  and  the  unjust  alike. 
Her  intellect,  education,  skill,  resource,  and  innate  tact 
made  it  possible  for  her  everywhere  to  gain  a  footing  in 
select  aristocratic  society,  and  to  play  by  no  means  the  least 
role  there.  Many  beauties  envied  her,  detested  her,  spoke 
evil  of  her,  and  yet  sought  her  friendship,  because  she  al- 
most always  queened  it  in  society.  Her  friendship  and  sym- 
pathy always  seemed  so  cordial,  so  sincere  and  tender,  and 
her  epigrams  were  so  pointed  and  poisonous,  that  every  hos- 
tile criticism  seemed  to  shrivel  up  in  that  glittering  fire, 
and  there  seemed  to  be  nothing  left  but  to  seek  her  friend- 
ship and  good  will.  For  instance,  if  things  went  well  in 
Baden,  one  could  confidently  foretell  that  at  the  end  of  the 
summer  season  Natasha  would  be  found  in  Nice  or  Ge- 
neva, queen  of  the  winter  season,  the  lioness  of  the  day, 
and  the  arbiter  of  fashion.  She  and  Bodlevski  always  be- 
haved with  such  propriety  and  watchful  care  that  not  a 
shadow  ever  fell  on  Natasha's  fame.  It  is  true  that  Bod- 
levski had  to  change  his  name  once  or  twice  and  to  seek  a 
new  field  for  his  talents,  and  to  make  sudden  excursions 
to  distant  corners  of  Europe — sometimes  in  pursuit  of  a 
promising  "  job,"  sometimes  to  evade  the  too  persistent  at- 

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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

tentions  of  the  police.  So  far  everything  had  turned  out 
favorably,  and  his  name  "  had  remained  unstained,"  when 
suddenly  a  slight  mishap  befell.  The  matter  was  a  trifling 
one,  but  the  misfortune  was  that  it  happened  in  Paris. 
There  was  a  chance  that  it  might  find  issue  in  the  courts 
and  the  hulks,  so  that  there  ensued  a  more  than  ordinarily 
rapid  change  of  passports  and  a  new  excursion — this  time 
to  Russia,  back  to  their  native  land  again,  after  an  absence 
of  twenty  years.  Thus  it  happened  that  the  papers  an- 
nounced the  arrival  in  St.  Petersburg  of  Baroness  von 
Doring  and  Ian  Vladislav  Karozitch. 


IX 

THE   CONCERT  OF  THE   POWERS 

A  FEW  days  after  there  was  a  brilliant  reunion  at  Prin- 
cess Shadursky's.  All  the  beauty  and  fashion  of  St.  Peters- 
burg were  invited,  and  few  who  were  invited  failed  to  come. 
It  happened  that  Prince  Shadursky  was  an  admirer  of  the 
fair  sex,  and  also  that  he  had  had  the  pleasure  of  meeting 
the  brilliant  Baroness  von  Doring  at  Hamburg,  and  again 
in  Paris.  It  was,  therefore,  to  be  expected  that  Baroness 
von  Doring  should  be  found  in  the  midst  of  an  admiring 
throng  at  Princess  Shadursky's  reception.  Her  .brother, 
Ian  Karozitch,  was  also  there,  suave,  alert,  dignified,  losing 
no  opportunity  to  make  friends  with  the  distinguished 
company  that  thronged  he  prince's  rooms. 

Late  in  the  evening  the  baroness  and  her  brother  might 
have  been  seen  engaged  in  a  tete-a-tete,  seated  in  two  com- 
fortable armchairs,  and  anyone  who  was  near  enough 
might  have  heard  the  following  conversation : 

"  How  goes  it  ?  "  Karozitch  asked  in  a  low  tone. 

"  As  you  see,  I  am  making  a  hit,"  answered  the  baroness 
in  the  same  quiet  tone.  But  her  manner  was  so  detached 
and  indifferent  that  no  one  could  have  guessed  her  re- 
mark was  of  the  least  significance.  It  should  be  noted 

208 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

that  this  was  her  first  official  presentation  to  St.  Peters- 
burg society.  And  in  truth  her  beauty,  united  with  her 
lively  intellect,  her  amiability,  and  her  perfect  taste  in  dress, 
had  produced  a  general  and  even  remarkable  effect. 
People  talked  about  her  and  became  interested  in  her,  and 
her  first  evening  won  her  several  admirers  among  those 
well  placed  in  society. 

"  I  have  been  paying  attention  to  the  solid  capitalists," 
replied  Karozitch ;  "  we  have  made  our  debut  in  the  role 
of  practical  actors.  Well,  what  about  him  ?  "  he  continued, 
indicating  Prince  Shadursky  with  his  eyes. 

"  In  the  web/'  she  replied,  with  a  subtle  smile. 

"  Then  we  can  soon  suck  his  brains  ?  " 

"  Soon — but  he  must  be  tied  tighter  first.  But  we  must 
not  talk  here."  A  moment  later  Karozitch  and  the  bar- 
oness were  in  the  midst  of  the  brilliant  groups  of  guests. 

A  few  late  comers  were  still  arriving.  "  Count  Kal- 
lash !  "  announced  the  footman,  who  stood  at  the  chief  en- 
trance to  the  large  hall. 

At  this  new  and  almost  unknown  but  high-sounding 
name,  many  eyes  were  turned  toward  the  door  through 
which  the  newcomer  must  enter.  A  hum  of  talk  spread 
among  the  guests : 

"  Count  Kallash " 

"Who  is  he ?" 

"  It  is  a  Hungarian  name — I  think  I  heard  of  him  some- 
where." 

"  Is  this  his  first  appearance  ?  " 

"  Who  is  this  Kallash  ?  Oh,  yes,  one  of  the  old  Hun- 
garian families " 

"  How  interesting " 

Such  questions  and  answers  crossed  each  other  in  a 
running  fire  among  the  various  groups  of  guests  who 
filled  the  hall,  when  a  young  man  appeared  in  the  door- 
way. 

He  lingered  a  moment  to  glance  round  the  rooms  and 
the  company;  then,  as  if  conscious  of  the  remarks  and 
glances  directed  toward  him,  but  completely  "  ignoring  " 

209 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

them,  and  without  the  least  shyness  or  awkwardness,  he 
walked  quietly  through  the  hall  to  the  host  and  hostess 
of  the  evening. 

People  of  experience,  accustomed  to  society  and  the 
ways  of  the  great  world,  can  often  decide  from  the  first 
minute  the  role  which  anyone  is  likely  to  play  among  them. 
People  of  experience,  at  the  first  view  of  this  young  man, 
at  his  first  entrance,  merely  by  the  way  he  entered  the 
hall,  decided  that  his  role  in  society  would  be  brilliant — 
that  more  than  one  feminine  heart  would  beat  faster  for  his 
presence,  that  more  than  one  dandy's  wrath  would  be 
kindled  by  his  successes. 

"  How  handsome  he  is !  "  a  whisper  went  round  among 
the  ladies.  The  men  for  the  most  part  remained  silent.  A 
few  twisted  the  ends  of  their  mustache  and  made  as  though 
they  had  not  noticed  him.  This  was  already  enough  to 
foreshadow  a  brilliant  career. 

And  indeed  Count  Kallash  could  not  have  passed  un- 
noticed, even  among  a  thousand  young  men  of  his  class. 
Tall  and  vigorous,  wonderfully  well  proportioned,  he  chal- 
lenged comparison  with  Antinoiis.  His  pale  face,  tanned 
by  the  sun,  had  an  expression  almost  of  weariness.  His 
high  forehead,  with  clustering  black  hair  and  sharply 
marked  brows,  bore  the  impress  of  passionate  feeling  and 
turbulent  thought  strongly  repressed.  It  was  difficult  to 
define  the  color  of  his  deep-set,  somewhat  sunken  eyes, 
which  now  flashed  with  southern  fire,  and  were  now  veiled, 
so  that  one  seemed  to  be  looking  into  an  abyss.  A  slight 
mustache  and  pointed  beard  partly  concealed  the  ironical 
smile  that  played  on  his  passionate  lips.  The  natural  grace 
of  good  manners  and  quiet  but  admirably  cut  clothes  com- 
pleted the  young  man's  exterior,  behind  which,  in  spite  of 
all  his  reticence,  could  be  divined  a  haughty  and  excep- 
tional nature.  A  more  profound  psychologist  would  have 
seen  in  him  an  obstinately  passionate,  ungrateful  nature, 
which  takes  from  others  everything  it  desires,  demanding 
it  from  them  as  a  right  and  without  even  a  nod  of  acknowl- 
edgment. Such  was  Count  Nicholas  Kallash. 

210 


Vsevolod  Vladimir  ovitch  Krestovski 

A  few  days  after  the  reception  at  Prince  Shadursky's 
Baroness  von  Doring  was  installed  in  a  handsome  apart- 
ment on  Mokhovoi  Street,  at  which  her  "  brother,"  Ian 
Karozitch,  or,  to  give  him  his  former  name,  Bodlevski, 
was  a  frequent  visitor.  By  a  "  lucky  accident "  he  had 
met  on  the  day  following  the  reception  our  old  friend 
Sergei  Antonovitch  Kovroff,  the  "  captain  of  the  Golden 
Band."  Their  recognition  was  mutual,  and,  after  a  more 
or  less  faithful  recital  of  the  events  of  the  intervening 
years,  they  had  entered  into  an  offensive  and  defensive 
alliance. 

When  Baroness  von  Doring  was  comfortably  settled  in 
her  new  quarters,  Sergei  Antonovitch  brought  a  visitor  to 
Bodlevski:  none  other  than  the  Hungarian  nobleman, 
Count  Nicholas  Kallash. 

"  Gentlemen,  you  are  strangers ;  let  me  introduce  you 
to  each  other,"  said  Kovroff,  presenting  Count  Kallash  to 
Bodlevski. 

"Very  glad  to  know  you,"  answered  the  Hungarian 
count,  to  Bodlevski's  astonishment  in  Russian ;  "  very  glad, 
indeed !  I  have  several  times  had  the  honor  of  hearing  of 
you.  Was  it  not  you  who  had  some  trouble  about  forged 
notes  in  Paris  ?  " 

"  Oh,  no !  You  are  mistaken,  dear  count !  "  answered 
Bodlevski,  with  a  pleasant  smile.  "  The  matter  was  not  of 
the  slightest  importance.  The  amount  was  a  trifle  and  I 
was  unwilling  even  to  appear  in  court !  " 

"  You  preferred  a  little  journey  to  Russia,  didn't  you  ?  " 
Kovroff  remarked  with  a  smile. 

"  Little  vexations  of  that  kind  may  happen  to  anyone," 
said  Bodlevski,  ignoring  KovrofPs  interruption.  "  You 
yourself,  dear  count,  had  some  trouble  about  some  bonds, 
if  I  am  not  mistaken  ?  " 

"  You  are  mistaken,"  the  count  interrupted  him  sharply. 
"  I  have  had  various  troubles,  but  I  prefer  not  to  talk  about 
them." 

"  Gentlemen,"  interrupted  Kovroff,  "  we  did  not  come 
here  to  quarrel,  but  to  talk  business.  Our  good  friend, 

211 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

Count  Kallash,"  he  went  on,  turning  to  Bodlevski,  "  wishes 
to  have  the  pleasure  of  cooperating  in  our  common  under- 
taking, and — I  can  recommend  him  very  highly." 

"  Ah !  "  said  Bodlevski,  after  a  searching  study  of  the 
count's  face.  "  I  understand !  the  baroness  will  return  in 
a  few  minutes  and  then  we  can  discuss  matters  at  our 
leisure." 

But  in  spite  of  this  understanding  it  was  evident  that 
Bodlevski  and  Count  Kallash  had  not  impressed  each  other 
very  favorably.  This,  however,  did  not  prevent  the  concert 
of  the  powers  from  working  vigorously  together. 


AN   UNEXPECTED    REUNION 

ON  the  wharf  of  the  Fontauka,  not  far  from  Simeonov- 
ski  Bridge,  a  crowd  was  gathered.  In  the  midst  of  the 
crowd  a  dispute  raged  between  an  old  woman,  tattered, 
disheveled,  miserable,  and  an  impudent-looking  youth. 
The  old  woman  was  evidently  stupid  from  misery  and  des- 
titution. 

While  the  quarrel  raged  a  new  observer  approached  the 
crowd.  He  was  walking  leisurely,  evidently  without  an 
aim  and  merely  to  pass  the  time,  so  it  is  not  to  be  won- 
dered at  that  the  loud  dispute  arrested  his  attention. 

"  Who  are  you,  anyway,  you  old  hag  ?  What  is  your 
name  ?  "  cried  the  impudent  youth. 

"  My  name  ?  My  name  ?  "  muttered  the  old  woman  in 
confusion.  "  I  am  a — I  am  a  princess,"  and  she  blinked  at 
the  crowd. 

Everyone  burst  out  laughing.  "  Her  Excellency,  the 
Princess !  Make  way  for  the  Princess !  "  cried  the  youth. 

The  old  woman  burst  into  sudden  anger. 

"  Yes,  I  tell  you,  I  am  a  princess  by  birth !  "  and  her 
eyes  flashed  as  she  tried  to  draw  herself  up  and  impose 
on  the  bantering  crowd. 

212 


Vsevolod  Vladimirovitch  Krestovski 

"Princess  What?  Princess  Which?  Princess  How?" 
cried  the  impudent  youth,  and  all  laughed  loudly. 

"  No !  Not  Princess  How !  "  answered  the  old  woman, 
losing  the  last  shred  of  self-restraint;  "but  Princess  Che- 
che-vin-ski!  Princess  Anna  Chechevinski!  " 

When  he  heard  this  name  Count  Kallash  started  and  his 
whole  expression  changed.  He  grew  suddenly  pale,  and 
with  a  vigorous  effort  pushed  his  way  through  the  crowd 
to  the  miserable  old  woman's  side. 

"  Come !  "  he  said,  taking  her  by  the  arm.  "  Come  with 
me  !  I  have  something  for  you !  " 

"  Something  for  me  ?  "  answered  the  old  woman,  look- 
ing up  with  stupid  inquiry  and  already  forgetting  the  ex- 
istence of  the  impudent  youth.  "  Yes,  I'll  come !  What 
have  you  got  for  me  ?  " 

Count  Kallash  led  her  by  the  arm  out  of  the  crowd, 
which  began  to  disperse,  abashed  by  his  appearance  and 
air  of  determination.  Presently  he  hailed  a  carriage,  and 
putting  the  old  woman  in,  ordered  the  coachman  to  drive 
to  his  rooms. 

There  he  did  his  best  to  make  the  miserable  old  woman 
comfortable,  and  his  housekeeper  presently  saw  that  she 
was  washed  and  fed,  and  soon  the  old  woman  was  sleep- 
ing in  the  housekeeper's  room. 

To  explain  this  extraordinary  event  we  must  go  back 
twenty  years. 

In  1838  Princess  Anna  Chechevinski,  then  in  her  twenty- 
sixth  year,  had  defied  her  parents,  thrown  to  the  winds  the 
traditions  of  her  princely  race,  and  fled  with  the  man  of  her 
choice,  followed  by  her  mother's  curses  and  the  ironical 
congratulations  of  her  brother,  who  thus  became  sole  heir. 

After  a  year  or  two  she  was  left  alone  by  the  death  of 
her  companion,  and  step  by  step  she  learned  all  the  les- 
sons of  sorrow.  From  one  stage  of  misfortune  to  another 
she  gradually  fell  into  the  deepest  misery,  and  had  become 
a  poor  old  beggar  in  the  streets  when  Count  Kallash  came 
so  unexpectedly  to  her  rescue. 

213 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

It  will  be  remembered  that,  as  a  result  of  Natasha's  act 
of  vengeance,  the  elder  Princess  Chechevinski  left  behind 
her  only  a  fraction  of  the  money  her  son  expected  to  in- 
herit. And  this  fraction  he  by  no  means  hoarded,  but  with 
cynical  disregard  of  the  future  he  poured  money  out  like 
water,  gambling,  drinking,  plunging  into  every  form  of 
dissipation.  Within  a  few  months  his  entire  inheritance 
was  squandered. 

Several  years  earlier  Prince  Chechevinski  had  taken  a 
deep  interest  in  conjuring  and  had  devoted  time  and  care 
to  the  study  of  various  forms  of  parlor  magic.  He  had 
even  paid  considerable  sums  to  traveling  conjurers  in  ex- 
change for  their  secrets.  Naturally  gifted,  he  had  mas- 
tered some  of  the  most  difficult  tricks,  and  his  skill  in  card 
conjuring  would  not  have  done  discredit  even  to  a  pro- 
fessional- magician. 

The  evening  when  his  capital  had  almost  melted  away 
and  the  shadow  of  ruin  lay  heavy  upon  him,  he  happened 
to  be  present  at  a  reception  where  card  play  was  going  on 
and  considerable  sums  were  staked. 

A  vacancy  at  one  of  the  tables  could  not  be  filled,  and, 
in  spite  of  his  weak  protest  of  unwillingness,  Prince  Che- 
chevinski was  pressed  into  service.  He  won  for  the  first 
few  rounds,  and  then  began  to  lose,  till  the  amount  of  his 
losses  far  exceeded  the  slender  remainder  of  his  capital.  A 
chance  occurred  where,  by  the  simple  expedient  of  -neutral- 
izing the  cut,  mere  child's  play  for  one  so  skilled  in  conjur- 
ing, he  was  able  to  turn  the  scale  in  his  favor,  winning  back 
in  a  single  game  all  that  he  had  already  lost.  He  had  hesi- 
tated for  a  moment,  feeling  the  abyss  yawning  beneath  him ; 
then  he  had  falsed,  made  the  pass,  and  won  the  game.  That 
night  he  swore  to  himself  that  he  would  never  cheat  again, 
never  again  be  tempted  to  dishonor  his  birth;  and  he  kept 
his  oath  till  his  next  run  of  bad  luck,  when  he  once  more 
neutralized  the  cut  and  turned  the  "  luck  "  in  his  direction. 

The  result  was  almost  a  certainty  from  the  outset,  Prince 
Chechevinski  became  a  habitual  card  sharper. 

For  a  long  time  fortune  favored  him.  His  mother's  repu- 
214 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

tation  for  wealth,  the  knowledge  that  he  was  her  sole  heir, 
the  high  position  of  the  family,  shielded  him  from  suspicion. 
Then  came  the  thunderclap.  He  was  caught  in  the  act  of 
"  dealing  a  second  "  in  the  English  Club,  and  driven  from 
the  club  as  a  blackleg.  Other  reverses  followed :  a  public 
refusal  on  the  part  of  an  officer  to  play  cards  with  him,  fol- 
lowed by  a  like  refusal  to  give  him  satisfaction  in  a  duel ; 
a  second  occasion  in  which  he  was  caught  redhanded ;  a 
criminal  trial;  six  years  in  Siberia.  After  two  years  he 
escaped  by  way  of  the  Chinese  frontier,  and  months  after 
returned  to  Europe.  For  two  years  he  practiced  his  skill 
at  Constantinople.  Then  he  made  his  way  to  Buda-Pesth, 
then  to  Vienna.  While  in  the  dual  monarchy,  he  had  come 
across  a  poverty-stricken  Magyar  noble,  named  Kallash, 
whom  he  had  sheltered  in  a  fit  of  generous  pity,  and  who 
had  died  in  his  room  at  the  Golden  Eagle  Inn.  -  Prince 
Chechevinski,  who  had  already  borne  many  aliases,  showed 
his  grief  at  the  old  Magyar's  death  by  adopting  his  name 
and  title;  hence  it  was  that  he  presented  himself  in  St. 
Petersburg  in  the  season  of  1858  under  the  high-sounding 
title  of  Count  Kallash. 

An  extraordinary  coincidence,  already  described,  had 
brought  him  face  to  face  with  his  sister  Anna,  whom  he  had 
never  even  heard  of  in  all  the  years  since  her  flight.  He 
found  her  now,  poverty-stricken,  prematurely  old,  almost 
demented,  and,  though  he  had  hated  her  cordially  in  days 
gone  by,  his  pity  was  aroused  by  her  wretchedness,  and  he 
took  her  to  his  home,  clothed  and  fed  her,  and  surrounded 
her  with  such  comforts  as  his  bachelor  apartment  offered. 

In  the  days  that  followed,  every  doubt  he  might  have 
had  as  to  her  identity  was  dispelled.  She  talked  freely  of 
their  early  childhood,  of  their  father's  death,  of  their 
mother;  she  even  spoke  of  her  brother's  coldness  and  hos- 
tility in  terms  which  drove  away  the  last  shadow  of  doubt 
whether  she  was  really  his  sister.  But  at  first  he  made  no 
corresponding  revelations,  remaining  for  her  only  Count 
Kallash. 


215 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 
XI 

THE   PHOTOGRAPH   ALBUM 

LITTLE  by  little,  however,  as  the  poor  old  woman  recov^ 
ered  something  of  health  and  strength,  his  heart  went  out 
toward  her.  Telling  her  only  certain  incidents  of  his  life, 
he  gradually  brought  the  narrative  back  to  the  period, 
twenty  years  before,  immediately  after  their  mother's  death, 
and  at  last  revealed  himself  to  his  sister,  after  making  her 
promise  secrecy  as  to  his  true  name.  Thus  matters  went 
on  for  nearly  two  years. 

The  broken-down  old  woman  lived  in  his  rooms  in  some- 
thing like  comfort,  and  took  pleasure  in  dusting  and  arrang- 
ing his  things.  One  day,  when  she  was  tidying  the  sitting 
room,  her  brother  was  startled  by  a  sudden  exclamation, 
almost  a  cry,  which  broke  from  his  sister's  lips. 

"  Oh,  heaven,  it  is  she !  "  she  cried,  her  eyes  fixed  on  a 
page  of  the  photograph  album  she  had  been  dusting. 
"  Brother,  come  here ;  for  heaven's  sake,  who  is  this  ?  " 

"  Baroness  von  Doring,"  curtly  answered  Kallash,  glanc- 
ing quickly  at  the  photograph.  "  What  do  you  find  interest- 
ing in  her  ?  " 

"  It  is  either  she  or  her  double !  Do  you  know  who  she 
looks  like?" 

"  Lord  only  knows  !    Herself,  perhaps !  " 

"  No,  she  has  a  double !  I  am  sure  of  it !  Do  you  re- 
member, at  mother's,  my  maid  Natasha  ?  " 

"  Natasha  ?  "  the  count  considered,  knitting  his  brows  in 
the  effort  to  recollect. 

"  Yes,  Natasha,  my  maid.  A  tall,  fair  girl.  A  thick 
tress  of  chestnut  hair.  She  had  such  beautiful  hair!  And 
her  lips  had  just  the  same  proud  expression.  Her  eyes 
were  piercing  and  intelligent,  her  brows  were  clearly  marked 
and  joined  together — in  a  word,  the  very  original  of  this 
photograph ! " 

"  Ah,"  slowly  and  quietly  commented  the  count,  pressing 
216 


Vsevolod  Vladimirovitch  Krestovski 

his  hand  to  his  brow.  "  Exactly.  Now  I  remember !  Yes, 
it  is  a  striking  likeness." 

"  But  look  closely,"  cried  the  old  woman  excitedly ;  "  it 
is  the  living  image  of  Natasha!  Of  course  she  is  more 
matured,  completely  developed.  How  old  is  the  baroness  ?  " 

"  She  must  be  approaching  forty.  But  she  doesn't  look 
her  age;  you  would  imagine  her  to  be  about  thirty-two 
from  her  appearance." 

"  There !    And  Natasha  would  be  just  forty  by  now !  " 

"  The  ages  correspond,"  answered  her  brother. 

"  Yes."  Princess  Anna  sighed  sadly.  "  Twenty-two 
years  have  passed  since  then.  But  if  I  met  her  face  to 
face  I  think  I  would  recognize  her  at  once.  Tell  me,  who 
is  she?" 

"The  baroness?  How  shall  I  tell  you?  She  has  been 
abroad  for  twenty  years,  and  for  the  last  two  years  she 
has  lived  here.  In  society  she  says  she  is  a  foreigner,  but 
with  me  she  is  franker,  and  I  know  that  she  speaks  Russian 
perfectly.  She  declares  that  her  husband  is  somewhere  in 
Germany,  and  that  she  lives  here  with  her  brother." 

"  Who  is  the  *  brother '  ?  "  asked  the  old  princess  curi- 
ously. 

"  The  deuce  knows !  He  is  also  a  bit  shady.  Oh,  yes ! 
Sergei  Kovroff  knows  him;  he  told  me  something  about 
their  history;  he  came  here  with  a  forged  passport,  under 
the  name  of  Vladislav  Karozitch,  but  his  real  name  is  Kasi- 
mir  Bodlevski." 

"  Kasimir  Bodlevski,"  muttered  the  old  woman,  knitting 
her  brows.  "  Was  he  not  once  a  lithographer  or  an  en- 
graver, or  something  of  the  sort  ?  " 

"  I  think  he  was.  I  think  Kovroff  said  something  about 
it.  He  is  a  fine  engraver  still." 

"  He  was  ?  Well,  there  you  are ! "  and  Princess  Anna 
rose  quickly  from  her  seat.  "  It  is  she — it  is  Natasha !  She 
used  to  tell  me  she  had  a  sweetheart,  a  Polish  hero,  Bod- 
levski. And  I  think  his  name  was  Kasimir.  She  often  got 
my  permission  to  slip  out  to  visit  him ;  she  said  he  worked 
for  a  lithographer,  and  always  begged  me  to  persuade 

217 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

mother  to  liberate  her  from  serfdom,  so  that  she  could 
marry  him." 

This  unexpected  discovery  meant  much  to  Kallash.  Cir- 
cumstances, hitherto  slight  and  isolated,  suddenly  gained  a 
new  meaning,  and  were  lit  up  in  a  way  that  made  him 
almost  certain  of  the  truth.  He  now  remembered  that  Kov- 
roff  had  once  told  him  of  his  first  acquaintance  with  Bod- 
levski,  when  he  came  on  the  Pole  at  the  Cave,  arranging 
for  a  false  passport;  he  remembered  that  Natasha  had  dis- 
appeared immediately  before  the  death  of  the  elder  Princess 
Chechevinski,  and  he  also  remembered  how,  returning  from 
the  cemetery,  he  had  been  cruelly  disappointed  in  his  ex- 
pectations when  he  had  found  in  the  strong  box  a  sum  very 
much  smaller  than  he  had  always  counted  on,  and  with 
some  foundation;  and  before  him,  with  almost  complete 
certainty,  appeared  the  conclusion  that  the  maid's  disap- 
pearance was  connected  with  the  theft  of  his  mother's 
money,  and  especially  of  the  securities  in  his  sister's  name, 
and  that  all  this  was  nothing  but  the  doing  of  Natasha  and 
her  companion  Bodlevski. 

"  Very  good !  Perhaps  this  information  will  come  in 
handy !  "  he  said  to  himself,  thinking  over  his  future  meas- 
ures and  plans.  "  Let  us  see — let  us  feel  our  way — perhaps 
it  is  really  so!  But  I  must  go  carefully  and  keep  on  my 
guard,  and  the  whole  thing  is  in  my  hands,  dear  baroness ! 
We  will  spin  a  thread  from  you  before  all  is  over.'1 


XII 

THE   BARONESS   AT   HOME 

EVERY  Wednesday  Baroness  von  Doring  received  her  in- 
timate friends.  She  did  not  care  for  rivals,  and  therefore 
ladies  were  not  invited  to  these  evenings.  The  intimate 
circle  of  the  baroness  consisted  of  our  Knights  of  Industry 
and  the  "  pigeons  "  of  the  bureaucracy,  the  world  of  finance, 
.the  aristocracy,  which  were  the  objects  of  the  knights'  de- 

218 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krcstovski 

sires.  It  often  happened,  however,  that  the  number  of 
guests  at  these  intimate  evenings  went  as  high  as  fifty,  and 
sometimes  even  more. 

The  baroness  was  passionately  fond  of  games  of  chance, 
and  always  sat  down  to  the  card  table  with  enthusiasm. 
But  as  this  was  done  conspicuously,  in  sight  of  all  her 
guests,  the  latter  could  not  fail  to  note  that  fortune  obsti- 
nately turned  away  from  the  baroness.  She  almost  never 
won  on  the  green  cloth ;  sometimes  Kovroff  won,  sometimes 
Kallash,  sometimes  Karozitch,  but  with  the  slight  differ- 
ence that  the  last  won  more  seldom  and  less  than  the  other 
two. 

Thus  every  Wednesday  a  considerable  sum  found  its 
way  from  the  pocketbook  of  the  baroness  into  that  of  one 
of  her  colleagues,  to  find  its  way  back  again  the  next 
morning.  The  purpose  of  this  clever  scheme  was  that  the 
"  pigeons  "  who  visited  the  luxurious  salons  of  the  baroness, 
and  whose  money  paid  the  expenses  of  these  salons,  should 
not  have  the  smallest  grounds  for  suspicion  that  the  dear 
baroness's  apartment  was  nothing  but  a  den  of  sharpers. 
Her  guests  all  considered  her  charming,  to  begin  with,  and 
also  rich  and  independent  and  passionate  by  nature.  This 
explained  her  love  of  play  and  the  excitement  it  brought, 
and  which  she  would  not  give  up,  in  spite  of  her  repeated 
heavy  losses. 

Her  colleagues,  the  Knights  of  Industry,  acted  on  a  care- 
fully devised  and  rigidly  followed  plan.  They  were  far 
from  putting  their  uncanny  skill  in  motion  every  Wednes- 
day. So  long  as  they  had  no  big  game  in  sight,  the  game 
remained  clean  and  honest.  In  this  way  the  band  might 
lose  two  or  three  thousand  rubles,  but  such  a  loss  had  no 
great  importance,  and  was  soon  made  up  when  some  fat 
"  pigeon  "  appeared. 

It  sometimes  happened  that  this  wily  scheme  of  honest 
play  went  on  for  five  or  six  weeks  in  succession,  so  that  the 
small  fry,  winning  the  band's  money,  remained  entirely  con- 
vinced that  it  was  playing  in  an  honorable  and  respectable 
private  house,  and  very  naturally  spread  abroad  the  fame 

219 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

of  it  throughout  the  whole  city.  But  when  the  fat  pigeon 
at  last  appeared,  the  band  put  forth  all  its  forces,  all  the 
wiles  of  the  black  art,  and  in  a  few  hours  made  up  for  the 
generous  losses  of  a  month  of  honorable  and  irreproachable 
play  on  the  green  cloth. 

Midnight  was  approaching. 

The  baroness's  rooms  were  brilliantly  lit  up,  but,  thanks 
to  the  thick  curtains  which  covered  the  windows,  the  lights 
could  not  be  seen  from  the  street,  though  several  carriages 
were  drawn  up  along  the  sidewalk. 

Opening  into  the  elegant  drawing-room  was  a  not  less 
elegant  card  room,  appreciatively  nicknamed  the  Inferno  by 
the  band.  In  it  stood  a  large  table  with  a  green  cloth,  on 
which  lay  a  heap  of  bank  notes  and  two  little  piles  of  gold, 
before  which  sat  Sergei  Antonovitch  Kovroff,  presiding 
over  the  bank  with  the  composure  of  a  true  gentleman. 

What  Homeric,  Jovine  calm  rested  on  every  feature  of 
his  face!  What  charming,  fearless  self-assurance,  what 
noble  self-confidence  in  his  smile,  in  his  glance!  What 
grace,  what  distinction  in  his  pose,  and  especially  in  the  hand 
which  dealt  the  cards!  Sergei  KovrofFs  hands  were  de- 
cidedly worthy  of  attention.  They  were  almost  always  clad 
in  new  gloves,  which  he  only  took  off  on  special  occasions,  at 
dinner,  or  when  he  had  some  writing  to  do,  or  when  he  sat 
down  to  a  game  of  cards.  As  a  result,  his  hands  were 
almost  feminine  in  their  delicacy,  the  sensibility  of  the  finger 
tips  had  reached  an  extraordinary  degree  of  development, 
equal  to  that  of  one  born  blind.  And  those  fingers  were 
skillful,  adroit,  alert,  their  every  movement  carried  out  with 
that  smooth,  indefinable  grace  which  is  almost  always  pos- 
sessed by  the  really  high-class  card  sharper.  His  fingers 
were  adorned  with  numerous  rings,  in  which  sparkled  dia- 
monds and  other  precious  stones.  And  it  was  not  for  noth- 
ing that  Sergei  Kovroff  took  pride  in  them!  This  glitter 
of  diamonds,  scattering  rainbow  rays,  dazzled  the  eyes  of 
his  fellow  players.  When  Sergei  Kovroff  sat  down  to  pre- 
side over  the  bank,  the  sparkling  of  the  diamonds  admirably 
masked  those  motions  of  his  fingers  which  needed  to  be 

220 


Vsevolod  Vladimir  ovitch  Krestovski 

masked;  they  almost  insensibly  drew  away  the  eyes  of  the 
players  from  his  fingers,  and  this  was  most  of  all  what 
Sergei  Kovroff  desired. 

Round  the  table  about  thirty  guests  were  gathered.  Some 
of  them  sat,  but  most  of  them  played  standing,  with  anx- 
ious faces,  feverishly  sparkling  eyes,  and  breathing  heavily 
and  unevenly.  Some  were  pale,  some  flushed,  and  all 
watched  with  passionate  eagerness  the  fall  of  the  cards. 
There  were  also  some  who  had  perfect  command  of  them- 
selves, distinguished  by  extraordinary  coolness,  and  jesting 
lightly  whether  they  lost  or  won.  But  such  happily  con- 
stituted natures  are  always  a  minority  when  high  play  is 
going  on. 

Silence  reigned  in  the  Inferno.  There  was  almost  no 
conversation ;  only  once  in  a  while  was  heard  a  remark,  in 
a  whisper  or  an  undertone,  addressed  by  a  player  to  his 
neighbor ;  the  only  sound  was  that  short,  dry  rustle  of  the 
cards  and  the  crackling  of  new  bank  notes,  or  the  tinkle 
of  gold  coins  making  their  way  round  the  table  from  the 
bank  to  the  players,  and  from  the  players  back  to  the  bank. 

The  two  Princes  Shadursky,  father  and  son,  both  lost 
heavily.  They  sat  opposite  Sergei  Kovroff,  and  between 
them  sat  Baroness  von  Doring,  who  played  in  alliance  with 
them.  The  clever  Natasha  egged  them  on,  kindling  their 
excitement  with  all  the  skill  and  calculation  possible  to  one 
whose  blood  was  as  cold  as  the  blood  of  a  fish,  and  both 
the  Shadurskys  had  lost  their  heads,  no  longer  knowing 
how  much  they  were  losing. 


XIII 

AN  EXPLANATION 

COUNT  KALLASH  and  his  sister  had  just  breakfasted 
when  the  count's  French  footman  entered  the  study. 

"  Madame  la  baronne  von  Doring !  "  he  announced  obse- 
quiously. 

221 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

Brother  and  sister  exchanged  a  rapid  glance. 

"  Now  is  our  opportunity  to  make  sure,"  said  Kallash, 
with  a  smile. 

"  If  it  is  she,  I  shall  recognize  her  by  her  voice,"  whis- 
pered Princess  Anna.  "  Shall  I  remain  here  or  go  ?  " 

"  Remain  in  the  meantime ;  it  will  be  a  curious  expe- 
rience. Faites  entrer!  "  he  added  to  the  footman. 

A  moment  later  light,  rapid  footsteps  were  heard  in  the 
entrance  hall,  and  the  rustling  of  a  silk  skirt. 

"  How  do  you  do,  count !  I  have  come  to  see  you  for 
a  moment.  I  came  in  all  haste,  on  purpose.  I  have  come 
in  person,  you  must  be  duly  appreciative!  Vladislav  is  too 
busy,  and  the  matter  is  an  important  one.  I  wanted  to  see 
you  at  the  earliest  opportunity.  Well,  we  may  all  congratu- 
late ourselves.  Fate  and  fortune  are  decidedly  on  our 
side ! "  said  the  baroness,  speaking  rapidly,  as  she  entered 
the  count's  study. 

"What  has  happened?  What  is  the  news?"  asked  the 
count,  going  forward  to  meet  her. 

"  We  have  learned  that  the  Shadurskys  have  just  received 
a  large  sum  of  money;  they  have  sold  an  estate,  and  the 
purchaser  has  paid  them  in  cash.  Our  opportunity  has 
come.  Heaven  forbid  that  we  should  lose  it!  We  must 
devise  a  plan  to  make  the  most  of  it." 

The  baroness  suddenly  stopped  short  in  the  middle  of 
the  sentence,  and  became  greatly  confused,  noticing  that 
there  was  a  third  person  present. 

"  Forgive  me !  I  did  not  give  you  warning,"  said  the 
count,  shrugging  his  shoulders  and  smiling",  "  permit  me ! 
Princess  Anna  Chechevinski! "  he  continued  with  emphasis, 
indicating  his  poor,  decrepit  sister.  "  Of  course  you  would 
not  have  recognized  her,  baroness." 

"  But  /  recognized  Natasha  immediately,"  said  the  old 
woman  quietly,  her  eyes  still  fixed  on  Natasha's  face. 

The  baroness  suddenly  turned  as  white  as  a  sheet,  and 
with  trembling  hands  caught  the  back  of  a  heavy  arm- 
chair. 

Kallash  with  extreme  politeness  assisted  her  to  a  seat. 
222 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

"  You  didn't  expect  to  meet  me,  Natasha?  "  said  the  old 
woman  gently  and  almost  caressingly,  approaching  her. 

"  I  do  not  know  you.  Who  are  you?  "  the  baroness  man- 
aged to  whisper,  by  a  supreme  effort. 

"  No  wonder;  I  am  so  changed,"  replied  Princess  Anna. 
"  But  you  are  just  the  same.  There  is  hardly  any  change 
at  all." 

Natasha  began  to  recover  her  composure. 

"  I  don't  understand  you,"  she  said  coldly,  contracting 
her  brows. 

"  But  I  understand  you  perfectly." 

"  Allow  me,  princess,"  Kallash  interrupted  her,  "  per- 
mit me  to  have  an  explanation  with  the  baroness;  she 
and  I  know  each  other  well.  And  if  you  will  pardon  me, 
I  shall  ask  you  in  the  meantime  to  withdraw." 

And  he  courteously  conducted  his  sister  to  the  massive 
oak  doors,  which  closed  solidly  after  her. 

"What  does  this  mean?"  said  the  baroness,  rising 
angrily,  her  gray  eyes  flashing  at  the  count  from  under  her 
broad  brows. 

"  A  coincidence,"  answered  Kallash,  shrugging  his  shoul- 
ders with  an  ironical  smile. 

"  How  a  coincidence?    Speak  clearly!  " 

"  The  former  mistress  has  recognized  her  former  maid — 
that  is  all." 

"How  does  this  woman  come  to  be  here?  Who  is 
she?" 

"I  have  told  you  already;  Princess  Anna  Chechevinski. 
And  as  to  how  she  came  here,  that  was  also  a  coincidence, 
and  a  strange  one." 

"Impossible!"  exclaimed  the  baroness. 

"  Why  impossible?  They  say  the  dead  sometimes  return 
from  the  tomb,  and  the  princess  is  still  alive.  And  why 
should  the  matter  not  have  happened  thus,  for  instance? 
Princess  Anna  Chechevinski's  maid  Natasha  took  advan- 
tage of  the  confidence  and  illness  of  the  elder  princess 
to  steal  from  her  strong  box,  with  the  aid  of  her  sweet- 
heart, Kasimir  Bodlevski,  money  and  securities — mark 

223 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

this,  baroness— securities  in  the  name  of  Princess  Anna. 
And  might  it  not  happen  that  this  same  lithographer  Bod- 
levski  should  get  false  passports  at  the  Cave,  for  himself 
and  his  sweetheart,  and  flee  with  her  across  the  fron- 
tier, and  might  not  this  same  maid,  twenty  years  later, 
return  to  Russia  under  the  name  of  Baroness  von  Doring? 
You  must  admit  that  there  is  nothing  fantastic  in  all  this ! 
What  is  the  use  of  concealing?  You  see  I  know  every- 
thing! " 

"And  what  follows  from  all  this?"  replied  the  baroness 
with  a  forced  smile  of  contempt. 

"  Much  may  follow  from  it,"  significantly  but  quietly 
replied  Kallash.  "  But  at  present  the  only  important  mat- 
ter is,  that  I  know  all.  I  repeat  it — all." 

"  Where  are  your  facts  ?  "  asked  the  baroness. 

"Facts?  Hm!"  laughed  Kallash.  "  If  facts  are  needed, 
they  will  be  forthcoming.  Believe  me,  dear  baroness,  that 
if  I  had  not  legally  sufficient  facts  in  my  hands,  I  would 
not  have  spoken  to  you  of  this." 

Kallash  lied,  but  lied  with  the  most  complete  appearance 
of  probability. 

The  baroness  again  grew  confused  and  turned  white. 

"  Where  are  your  facts  ?  Put  them  in  my  hands !  "  she 
said  at  last,  after  a  prolonged  silence. 

"Oh,  this  is  too  much!  Get  hold  of  them  yourself!" 
the  count  replied,  with  the  same  smile.  "  The  facts  are 
generally  set  forth  to  the  prisoner  by  the  court;  but  it 
is  enough  for  you  in  the  meantime  to  know  that  the  facts 
exist,  and  that  they  are  in  my  possession.  Believe,  if  you 
wish.  If  you  do  not  wish,  do  not  believe.  I  will  neither 
persuade  you  nor  dissuade  you." 

"And  this  means  that  I  am  in  your  power?  she  said 
slowly,  raising  her  piercing  glance  to  his  face. 

"  Yes ;  it  means  that  you  are  in  my  power,"  quietly 
and  confidently  answered  Count  Kallash. 

"  But  you  forget  that  you  and  I  are  in  the  same  boat." 

"  You  mean  that  I  am  a  sharper,  like  you  and  Bod- 
levski?  Well,  you  are  right.  We  are  all  berries  of  the 

224 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

same  bunch—except  her "  (and  he  indicated  the  folding 
doors).  "  She,  thanks  to  many  things,  has  tasted  misery, 
but  she  is  honest  But  we  are  all  rascals,  and  I  first  of  all. 
You  are  perfectly  right  in  that.  If  you  wish  to  get  me  in 
your  power — try  to  find  some  facts  against  me.  Then  we 
shall  be  quits!" 

"And  what  is  it  you  wish?" 

"  It  is  too  late  for  justice,  at  least  so  far  as  she  is  con- 
cerned," replied  the  count,  with  a  touch  of  sadness ;  "  but 
it  is  not  too  late  for  a  measure  of  reparation.  But 
we  can  discuss  that  later,"  he  went  on  more  lightly,  as  if 
throwing  aside  the  heavy  impression  produced  by  the 
thought  of  Princess  Anna's  misery.  "  And  now,  dear  bar- 
oness, let  us  return  to  business,  the  business  of  Prince 
Shadursky!  I  will  think  the  matter  over,  and  see  whether 
anything  suggests  itself." 

He  courteously  conducted  the  baroness  to  the  carriage, 
and  they  parted,  to  all  appearance,  friends.  But  there 
were  dangerous  elements  for  both  in  that  seeming  friend- 
ship. 

XIV 

GOLD    MINING 

A  WONDERFUL  scheme  was  hatched  in  Count  Kallash's 
fertile  brain.  Inspired  by  the  thought  of  Prince  Shadur- 
sky's  newly  replenished  millions,  he  devised  a  plan  for  the 
gang  which  promised  brilliant  results,  and  only  needed 
the  aid  of  a  discreet  and  skillful  confederate.  And  what 
confederate  could  be  more  trustworthy  than  Sergei  An- 
tonovitch  Kovroff?  So  the  two  friends  were  presently  to 
be  found  in  secret  consultation  in  the  count's  handsome 
study,  with  a  bottle  of  good  Rhine  wine  before  them,  fine 
cigars  between  their  lips,  and  the  memory  of  a  well-served 
breakfast  lingering  pleasantly  in  their  minds.  They  were 
talking  about  the  new  resources  of  the  Shadurskys. 

"  To  take  their  money  at  cards — what  a  wretched  busi- 
225 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

ness — and  so  infernally  commonplace,"  said  Count  Kallash. 
"  To  tell  you  the  truth,  I  have  for  a  long  time  been  sick 
of  cards!  And,  besides,  time  is  money!  Why  should  we 
waste  several  weeks,  or  even  months,  over  something  that 
could  be  done  in  a  few  days?" 

Kovroff  agreed  completely,  but  at  the  same  time  put 
the  question,  if  not  cards,  what  plan  was  available? 

"  That  is  it  exactly !  "  cried  Kallash,  warming  up.  "  I 
have  thought  it  all  over.  The  problem  is  this:  we  must 
think  up  something  that  would  surprise  Satan  himself, 
something  that  would  make  all  Hades  smile  and  blow  us 
hot  kisses.  But  what  of  Hades  ? — that's  all  nonsense.  We 
must  do  something  that  will  make  the  whole  Golden  Band 
throw  up  their  caps.  That  is  what  we  have  to  do!  " 

"  Quite  a  problem,"  lazily  answered  Kovroff,  chewing 
the  end  of  his  cigar.  "  But  you  are  asking  too  much." 

"  But  that  is  not  all,"  the  count  interrupted  him ;  "  lis- 
ten! This  is  what  my  problem  demands.  We  must 
think  of  some  project  that  unites  two  precious  qualities: 
first,  a  rapid  and  huge  profit;  second,  entire  absence  of 
risk." 

"  Conditions  not  altogether  easy  to  fulfill,"  remarked 
Kovroff  doubtfully. 

"  So  it  seems.  And  daring  plans  are  not  to  be  picked 
up  in  the  street,  but  are  the  result  of  inspiration.  It  is 
what  is  called  a  '  heavenly  gift/  my  dear  friend."  • 

"And  you  have  had  an  inspiration?"  smiled  Sergei  An- 
tonovitch,  with  a  slightly  ironical  shade  of  friendly  skep- 
ticism. 

"  I  have  had  an  inspiration,"  replied  the  supposititious 
Hungarian  nobleman,  falling  into  the  other's  tone. 

"  And  your  muse  is ?  " 

"The  tenth  of  the  muses,"  the  count  interrupted  him: 
"  another  name  is  Industry." 

"  She  is  the  muse  of  all  of  us." 

"  And  mine  in  particular.  But  we  are  not  concerned 
with  her,  but  with  her  prophetic  revelations." 

"Oh,  dear  count!  Circumlocutions  apart!  This  Rhine 
226 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

wine  evidently  carries  you  to  misty  Germany.  Tell  me 
simply  what  the  matter  is." 

"The  matter  is  simply  this:  we  must  institute  a  society 
of  '  gold  miners/  and  we  must  find  gold  in  places  where 
the  geological  indications  are  dead  against  it.  That  is  the 
problem.  The  Russian  laws,  under  threat  of  arrest  and 
punishment,  sternly  forbid  the  citizens  of  the  Russian  Em- 
pire, and  likewise  the  citizens  of  other  lands  within  the 
empire,  to  buy  or  sell  the  noble  metals  in  their  crude  form, 
that  is,  in  nuggets,  ore,  or  dust.  For  example,  if  you 
bought  gold  in  the  rough  from  me — gold  dust,  for  example 
— we  should  both,  according  to  law,  have  to  take  a  pleasant 
little  trip  beyond  the  Ural  Mountains  to  Siberia,  and  there 
we  should  have  to  engage  in  mining  the  precious  metal 
ourselves.  A  worthy  occupation,  no  doubt,  but  not  a  very 
profitable  one  for  us." 

"  Our  luxuries  would  be  strictly  limited,"  jested  Kovroff, 
with  a  wry  smile. 

"  There  it  is !  You  won't  find  many  volunteers  for  that 
occupation,  and  that  is  the  fulcrum  of  my  whole  plan.  You 
must  understand  that  gold  dust  in  the  mass  is  practically 
indistinguishable  in  appearance  from  brass  filings.  Let 
us  suppose  that  we  secretly  sell  some  perfectly  pure  brass 
filings  for  gold  dust,  and  that  they  are  readily  bought  of 
us,  because  we  sell  considerably  below  the  market  rate. 
It  goes  without  saying  that  the  purchaser  will  presently 
discover  that  we  have  done  him  brown.  But,  I  ask  you, 
will  he  go  and  accuse  us  knowing  that,  as  the  penalty  for 
his  purchase,  he  will  have  to  accompany  us  along  the  Sibe- 
rian road?" 

"  No  man  is  his  own  enemy/'  sententiously  replied 
Kovroff,  beginning  to  take  a  vivid  interest  in  what  his 
companion  was  saying.  "  But  how  are  you  going  to 
work  it?" 

"  You  will  know  at  the  proper  time.  The  chief  thing 
is,  that  our  problem  is  solved  in  the  most  decisive  manner. 
You  and  I  are  pretty  fair  judges  of  human  nature,  so  we 
may  be  pretty  sure  that  we  shall  always  find  purchasers, 

227 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

and  I  suggest  that  we  make  a  beginning  on  young  Prince 
Shadursky.  How  we  shall  get  him  into  it  is  my  business. 
I'll  tell  you  later  on.  But  how  do  you  like  the  general  idea 
of  my  plan?" 

"It's  clever  enough!"  cried  Kovroff,  pressing  his  hand 
with  the  gay  enthusiasm  of  genuine  interest. 

"  For  this  truth  much  thanks !  "  cried  Kallash,  clinking 
glasses  with  him.  "  It  is  clever — that  is  the  best  praise 
I  could  receive  from  you.  Let  us  drink  to  the  success  of 
my  scheme!  " 

XV 

THE   FISH   BITES 

THREE  days  after  this  conversation  the  younger  prince 
Shadursky  dined  with  Sergei  Antonovitch  Kovroff. 

That  morning  he  received  a  note  from  Kovroff,  in  which 
the  worthy  Sergei  complained  of  ill  health  and  begged  the 
prince  to  come  and  dine  with  him  and  cheer  him  up. 

The  prince  complied  with  his  request,  and  appearing  at 
the  appointed  time  found  Count  Kallash  alone  with  his 
host. 

Among  other  gossip,  the  prince  announced  that  he  ex- 
pected shortly  to  go  to  Switzerland,  as  he  had  bad  reports 
of  the  health  of  his  mother,  who  was  in  Geneva. 

At  this  news  Kallash  glanced  significantly  toward  Kov- 
roff. 

Passing  from  topic  to  topic,  the  conversation  finally 
turned  to  the  financial  position  of  Russia.  Sergei  Antono- 
vitch, according  to  his  expression,  "  went  to  the  root  of 
the  matter,"  and  indicated  the  "  source  of  the  evil/'  very 
frankly  attacking  the  policy  of  the  government,  which  did 
everything  to  discourage  gold  mining,  hedging  round 
this  most  important  industry  with  all  kinds  of  difficulties, 
and  practically  prohibiting  the  free  production  of  the 
precious  metals  by  laying  on  it  a  dead  weight  of  costly 
formalities. 

228 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

"  I  have  facts  ready  to  hand,"  he  went  on,  summing  up 
his  argument.  "  I  have  an  acquaintance  here,  an  employee 
of  one  of  the  best-known  men  in  the  gold-mining  indus- 
try." Here  Kovroff  mentioned  a  well-known  name.  "  He 
is  now  in  St.  Petersburg.  Well,  a  few  days  ago  he  sud- 
denly came  to  me  as  if  he  had  something  weighing  on  his 
mind.  And  I  have  had  business  relations  with  him  in 
times  past.  Well,  what  do  you  think  ?  He  suddenly  made 
me  a  proposal,  secretly  of  course ;  would  I  not  take  some 
gold  dust  off  his  hands?  You  must  know  that  these 
trusted  employees  every  year  bring  several  hundred  pounds 
of  gold  from  Asia,  and  of  course  it  stands  to  reason  that 
they  cannot  get  rid  of  it  in  the  ordinary  way,  but  smuggle 
it  through  private  individuals.  It  is  uncommonly  profit- 
able for  the  purchasers,  because  they  buy  far  below  the 
market  rates.  So  there  are  plenty  of  purchasers.  Several 
of  the  leading  jewelers  "  (and  here  he  named  three  or  four 
of  the  best-known  firms)  "  never  refuse  such  a  deal,  and 
last  year  a  banking  house  in  Berlin  bought  a  hundred 
pounds'  weight  of  gold  through  agents  here.  Well,  this 
same  employee,  my  acquaintance,  is  looking  for  an  oppor- 
tunity to  get  rid  of  his  wares.  And  he  tells  me  he  man- 
aged to  bring  in  about  forty  pounds  of  gold,  if  not  more. 
I  introduce  this  fact  to  illustrate  the  difficulties  put  in  the 
way  of  enterprise  by  our  intelligent  government." 

Shadursky  did  not  greatly  occupy  himself  with  serious 
questions  and  he  was  totally  ignorant  of  all  details  of 
financial  undertakings.  It  was,  therefore,  perfectly  easy 
for  Sergei  Antonovitch  to  assume  a  tone  of  solid,  practical 
sense,  which  imposed  completely  on  the  young  prince. 
Young  Shadursky,  from  politeness,  and  to  prove  his 
worldly  wisdom,  assented  to  Kovroff's  statements  with 
equal  decision.  All  the  same,  from  this  conversation,  he 
quite  clearly  seized  on  the  idea  that  under  certain  circum- 
stances it  would  be  possible  to  buy  gold  at  a  much  lower 
price  than  that  demanded  by  the  Imperial  Bank.  And  this 
was  just  the  thought  which  Kallash  and  Kovroff  wished  to 
sow  in  the  young  prince's  mind. 

229 


Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"  Of  course,  I  myself  do  not  go  in  for  that  kind  of  busi- 
ness," went  on  Kovroff  carelessly,  "  and  so  I  could  not 
give  my  friend  any  help.  But  if  some  one  were  going 
abroad,  for  instance,  he  might  well  risk  such  an  operation, 
which  would  pay  him  a  very  handsome  profit." 

"  How  so  ?     In  what  way  ?  "  asked  Shadursky. 

"  Very  simply.  You  buy  the  goods  here,  as  I  already 
said,  much  below  the  government  price.  So  that  to  begin 
with  you  make  a  very  profitable  bargain.  Then  you  go 
abroad  with  your  wares  and  there,  as  soon  as  the  exchange 
value  of  gold  goes  up,  you  can  sell  it  at  the  nearest  bank. 

I  know,  for  instance,  that  the  agent  of  the Bank  "  (and 

he  mentioned  a  name  well  known  in  St.  Petersburg) 
"  made  many  a  pretty  penny  for  himself  by  just  such  a 
deal.  This  is  how  it  was:  He  bought  gold  dust  for 
forty  thousand  rubles,  and  six  weeks  later  got  rid  of  it  in 
Hamburg  for  sixty  thousand.  Whatever  you  may  say,  fifty 
per  cent  on  your  capital  in  a  month  and  a  half  is  pretty 
good  business." 

"  Deuce  take  it !  A  pretty  profitable  bargain,  without 
a  doubt ! "  cried  Shadursky,  jumping  from  his  chair.  "  It 
would  just  suit  me !  I  could  get  rid  of  it  in  Geneva  or 
Paris,"  he  went  on  in  a  jesting  tone. 

"  What  do  you  think  ?  Of  course !  "  Sergei  Antono- 
vitch  took  him  up,  but  in  a  serious  tone.  "  You  or  some 
one  else — in  any  case  it  would  be  a  good  bargain.  For  my 
acquaintance  has  to  go  back  to  Asia,  and  has  only  a  few 
days  to  spare.  He  doesn't  know  where  to  turn  and  rather 
than  take  his  gold  back  with  him,  he  would  willingly  let 
it  go  at  an  even  lower  rate  than  the  smugglers  generally 
ask.  If  I  had  enough  free  cash  I  would  go  in  for  it  my- 
self." 

"  It  looks  a  good  proposition,"  commented  Count  Kal- 
lash. 

"  It  is  certainly  very  enticing;  what  do  you  think?  "  said 
Prince  Shadursky  interrogatively,  folding  his  arms. 

"  Hm — yes !  very  enticing,"  answered  Kovroff.  "  A 
fine  chance  for  anyone  who  has  the  money." 

230 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

"  I  would  not  object !  I  would  not  object !  "  protested 
Shadursky.  "  Suppose  you  let  me  become  acquainted  with 
your  friend." 

"You?  Well—"  And  Kovroff  considered;  "if  you 
wish.  Why  not  ?  Only  I  warn  you,  first,  if  you  are  going 
to  buy,  buy  quickly,  for  my  friend  can't  wait ;  and  secondly, 
keep  the  matter  a  complete  secret,  for  very  unpleasant  re- 
sults might  follow." 

"  That  goes  without  saying.  That  stands  to  reason,"  as- 
sented Shadursky.  "  I  can  get  the  money  at  once  and  I 
am  just  going  abroad,  in  a  day  or  two  at  the  latest.  So 
it  would  be  foolish  to  miss  such  a  chance.  So  it  is  a  bar- 
gain ?  "  And  he  held  out  his  hand  to  Kovroff. 

"  How  a  bargain  ?  "  objected  the  cautious  Sergei  An- 
tonovitch.  "  I  am  not  personally  concerned  in  the  matter, 
and  you  must  admit,  my  dear  prince,  that  I  can  make  no 
promises  for  my  acquaintance." 

"  I  don't  mean  that ! "  cried  Shadursky.  "  I  only  ask 
you  to  arrange  for  me  to  meet  him.  Bring  us  together — 
and  drop  him  a  hint  that  I  do  not  object  to  buying  his 
wares.  You  will  confer  a  great  obligation  on  me." 

"  Oh,  that  is  quite  a  different  matter.  That  I  can  al- 
ways do;  the  more  so,  because  we  are  such  good  friends. 
Why  should  I  not  do  you  such  a  trifling  service?  As  far 
as  an  introduction  is  concerned,  you  may  count  on  it." 

And  they  cordially  shook  each  other  by  the  hand. 


XVI 

GOLD   DUST 

BOTH  Kallash  and  Kovroff  were  too  cautious  to  take  an 
immediate,  personal  part  in  the  gold-dust  sale.  There  was 
a  certain  underling,  Mr.  Escrocevitch  by  name,  at  Sergei 
Kovroff's  beck  and  call — a  shady  person,  rather  dirty  in 
aspect,  and  who  was,  therefore,  only  admitted  to  Sergei's 
presence  by  the  back  door  and  through  the  kitchen,  and 

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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

even  then  only  at  times  when  there  were  no  outsiders 
present. 

Mr.  Escrocevitch  was  a  person  of  general  utility  and  was 
especially  good  at  all  kinds  of  conjuring  tricks.  Watches, 
snuff-boxes,  cigar-cases,  silver  spoons,  and  even  heavy 
bronze  paper-weights  acquired  the  property  of  suddenly 
vanishing  from  under  his  hands,  and  of  suddenly  reappear- 
ing in  a  quite  unexpected  quarter.  This  valuable  gift  had 
been  acquired  by  Mr.  Escrocevitch  in  his  early  years,  when 
he  used  to  wander  among  the  Polish  fairs,  swallowing 
burning  flax  for  the  delectation  of  the  public  and  disgorg- 
ing endless  yards  of  ribbon  and  paper. 

Mr.  Escrocevitch  was  a  precious  and  invaluable  person 
also  owing  to  his  capacity  of  assuming  any  role,  turning 
himself  into  any  given  character,  and  taking  on  the  corre-, 
spending  tone,  manners,  and  appearance,  and  he  was,  fur- 
ther, a  pretty  fair  actor. 

He  it  was  who  was  chosen  to  play  the  part  of  the  Si- 
berian employee. 

Not  more  than  forty-eight  hours  had  passed  since  the 
previous  conversation.  Prince  Shadursky  was  just  up, 
when  his  footman  announced  to  him  that  a  Mr.  Valyaj- 
nikoff  wished  to  see  him. 

The  prince  put  on  his  dressing  gown  and  went  into 
the  drawing-room,  where  the  tolerably  presentable  but 
strangely  dressed  person  of  Mr.  Escrocevitch  presented 
itself  to  him. 

"  Permit  me  to  have  the  honor  of  introducing  myself," 
he  began,  bowing  to  Prince  Shadursky ;  "  I  am  Ivanovitch 
Valyajnikoff.  Mr.  Sergei  Antonovitch  Kovroff  was  so  good 
as  to  inform  me  of  a  certain  intention  of  yours  about  the 
dust.  So,  if  your  excellency  has  not  changed  your  mind, 
I  am  ready  to  sell  it  to  you  with  pleasure." 

"  Very  good  of  you,"  answered  Prince  Shadursky,  smil- 
ing gayly,  and  giving  him  a  chair. 

"  To  lose  no  time  over  trifles,"  continued  Mr.  Escroce- 
vitch, "let  me  invite  you  to  my  quarters.  I  am  staying 
at  a  hotel;  you  can  see  the  goods  there;  you  can  make 

232 


Vsevolod  Vladimirovitch  Krestovski 

tests,  and,  if  you  are  satisfied,  I  shall  be  very  happy  to 
oblige  your  excellency." 

Prince  Shadursky  immediately  finished  dressing,  ordered 
his  carriage,  and  went  out  with  the  supposititious  Val- 
yajnikoff.  They  drove  to  a  shabby  hotel  and  went  to  a 
dingy  room. 

"  This  is  my  poor  abode.  I  am  only  here  on  the  wing, 
so  to  speak.  I  humbly  request  you  to  be  seated,"  Mr. 
Escrocevitch  said  obsequiously.  "  Not  to  lose  precious 
time,  perhaps  your  excellency  would  like  to  look  at  my 
wares?  Here  they  are — and  I  am  most  willing  to  show 
them." 

And  he  dragged  from  under  the  bed  a  big  trunk,  in 
which  were  five  canvas  bags  of  various  sizes,  packed  full 
and  tied  tightly. 

"  Here,  here  it  is !  This  is  our  Siberian  dust/'  he  said, 
smiling  and  bowing,  indicating  the  trunk  with  a  wave  of 
his  hand,  as  if  introducing  it  to  Prince  Shadursky. 

"  Would  not  your  excellency  be  so  good  as  to  choose 
one  of  these  bags  to  make  a  test?  It  will  be  much  bet- 
ter if  you  see  yourself  that  the  business  is  above  board, 
with  no  swindle  about  it.  Choose  whichever  you  wish !  " 

Shadursky  lifted  one  of  the  bags  from  the  trunk,  and 
when  Mr.  Escrocevitch  untied  it,  before  the  young  prince's 
eyes  appeared  a  mass  of  metallic  grains,  at  which  he  gazed 
not  without  inward  pleasure. 

"  How  are  you  going  to  make  a  test  ?  "  he  asked.  "  We 
have  no  blow-pipes  nor  test-tubes  here  ?  " 

"  Make  your  mind  easy,  your  excellency !  We  shall  find 
everything  we  require — blow-pipes  and  test-tubes  and  nitric 
acid,  and  even  a  decimal  weighing  machine.  In  our  busi- 
ness we  arrange  matters  in  such  a  way  that  we  need  not 
disturb  outsiders.  Only  charcoal  we  haven't  got,  but  we 
can  easily  send  for  some." 

And  going  to  the  door,  he  gave  the  servant  in  the  pas- 
sage an  order,  and  a  few  minutes  later  the  latter  returned 
with  a  dish  of  charcoal. 

"  First  class !  Now  everything  is  ready,"  cried  Mr.  Es- 
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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

crocevitch,  rubbing  his  hands;  and  for  greater  security  he 
turned  the  key  in  the  door. 

"  Take  whichever  piece  of  charcoal  you  please,  your  ex- 
cellency; but,  not  to  so'M  your  hands,  you  had  better, "let 
me  take  it  myself,  and  you  sprinkle  some  of  the  dust  on 
it,"  and  he  humbled  himself  before  the  prince.  "  Forgive 
me  for  asking  you  to  do  it  all  yourself,  since  it  is  not  from 
any  lack  of  politeness  on  my  part,  but  simply  in  order  that 
your  excellency  should  be  fully  convinced  that  there  is  no 
deception."  Saying  this,  he  got  his  implements  ready  and 
lit  the  lamp. 

The  blow-pipe  came  into  action.  Valyajnikoff  made 
the  experiment,  and  Shadursky  attentively  followed  every 
movement.  The  charcoal  glowed  white  hot,  the  dust  ran 
together  and  disappeared,  and  in  its  place,  when  the  char- 
coal had  cooled  a  little,  and  the  amateur  chemist  presented 
it  to  Prince  Shadursky,  the  prince  saw  a  little  ball  of  gold 
lying  in  a  crevice  of  the  charcoal,  such  as  might  easily  have 
formed  under  the  heat  of  the  blow-pipe. 

"  Take  the  globule,  your  excellency,  and  place  it,  for 
greater  security,  in  your  pocketbook,"  said  Escrocevitch ; 
"  you  may  even  wrap  it  up  in  a  bit  of  paper ;  and  keep  the 
sack  of  gold  dust  yourself,  so  that  there  can  be  no  mis- 
take." 

Shadursky  gladly  followed  this  last  piece  of  advice. 

"  And  now,  your  excellency,  I  should  like  you  kindly  to 
select  another  bag ;  we  shall  make  two  or  three  more  tests 
in  the  same  way." 

The  prince  consented  to  this  also. 

Escroceviteh  handed  him  a  new  piece  of  charcoal  to 
sprinkle  dust  on,  and  once  more  brought  the  blow-pipe 
into  operation.  And  again  the  brass  filings  disappeared 
and  in  the  crevice  appeared  a  new  globule  of  gold. 

"  Well,  perhaps  these  two  tests  will  be  sufficient.  What 
is  your  excellency  good  enough  to  think  on  that  score  ?  " 
asked  the  supposed  Valyajnikoff. 

"  What  is  the  need  of  further  tests  ?  The  matter  is  clear 
enough,"  assented  the  prince. 

234 


Vsevolod  Vladimir •ovitch  Krestovski 

"  If  it  is  satisfactory,  we  shall  proceed  to  make  it  even 
more  satisfactory.  Here  we  have  a  touch-stone,  and  here 
we  have  some  nitric  acid.  Try  the  globules  on  the  touch- 
stone physically,  and,  so  to  speak,  with  the  nitric  acid 
chemically.  And  if  you  wish  to  make  even  more  certain, 
this  is  what  we  shall  do.  What  quantity  of  gold  does  your 
excellency  wish  to  take  ?  " 

"  The  more  the  better.  I  am  ready  to  buy  all  these 
bags." 

"  Very  much  obliged  to  your  excellency,  as  this  will  suit 
me  admirably,"  said  Escrocevitch,  bowing  low.  "  And  so, 
if  your  excellency  is  ready,  then  I  humbly  beg  you  to  take 
each  bag,  examine  it,  and  seal  it  with  your  excellency's  own 
seal.  Then  let  us  take  one  of  the  globules  and  go  to  one 
of  the  best  jewelers  in  St.  Petersburg.  Let  him  tell  us  the 
value  of  the  gold  and  in  this  way  the  business  will  be 
exact ;  there  will  be  no  room  for  complaint  on  either  side, 
since  everything  will  be  fair  and  above  board." 

The  prince  was  charmed  with  the  honesty  and  frankness 
of  Mr.  Valyajnikoff. 

They  went  together  to  one  of  the  best-known  jewelers, 
rho,  in  their  presence,  made  a  test  and  announced  that  the 
gold  was  chemically  pure,  without  any  alloy,  and  there- 
fore of  the  highest  value. 

On  their  return  to  the  hotel,  Mr.  Escrocevitch  weighed 
the  bags,  which  turned  out  to  weigh  forty-eight  pounds. 
Allowing  three  pounds  for  the  weight  of  the  bags,  this  left 
forty-five  pounds  of  pure  gold. 

"  How  much  a  pound  do  you  want  ?  "  Shadursky  asked 
him. 

"  A  pretty  low  price,  your  excellency,"  answered  the 
Siberian,  with  a  shrug  of  his  shoulders,  "  as  I  am  selling 
from  extreme  necessity,  because  I  have  to  leave  for  Siberia ; 
I've  spent  too  much  time  and  money  in  St.  Petersburg 
already ;  and  if  I  cannot  sell  my  wares,  I  shall  not  be  able 
to  go  at  all.  I  assume  that  the  government  price  is  known 
to  your  excellency?  " 

"  But  I  am  willing  to  take  two  hundred  rubles  a  pound. 
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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

I  can't  take  a  kopeck  less,  and  even  so  I  am  making  a  re- 
duction of  nearly  a  hundred  rubles  the  pound." 

"  All  right!"  assented  Shadursky.  "  That  will  amount 
to — "  he  went  on,  knitting  his  brows,  "  forty-five  pounds 
at  two  hundred  rubles  a  pound " 

"  It  will  make  exactly  nine  thousand,  your  excellency. 
Just  exactly  nine,"  Escrocevitch  obsequiously  helped  him 
out.  The  prince,  cutting  the  matter  short,  immediately 
gave  him  a  check,  and  taking  the  trunk  with  the  coveted 
bags,  drove  with  the  Siberian  employee  to  his  father's  house, 
where  the  elder  Prince  Shadursky,  at  his  son's  pressing 
demand,  though  very  unwillingly,  exchanged  the  check  for 
nine  thousand  rubles  in  bills,  for  which  Ivan  Ivanovitch 
Valyajnikoff  forthwith  gave  a  receipt.  The  prince  was 
delighted  with  his  purchase,  and  he  did  not  utter  a  sylla- 
ble about  it  to  anyone  except  Kovroff. 

Sergei  Antonovitch  gave  him  a  friendly  counsel  not  to 
waste  any  time,  but  to  go  abroad  at  once,  as,  according 
to  the  Exchange  Gazette,  gold  was  at  that  moment  very 
high,  so  that  he  had  an  admirable  opportunity  to  get  rid 
of  his  wares  on  very  favorable  terms. 

The  prince,  in  fact,  without  wasting  time  got  his  trav- 
eling passport,  concealed  his  purchase  with  the  utmost  care, 
and  set  out  for  the  frontier,  announcing  that  he  was  on  his 
way  to  his  mother,  whose  health  imperatively  demanded 
his  presence. 

The  success  of  the  whole  business  depended  on  the  fact 
that  brass  filings,  which  bear  a  strong  external  resemblance 
to  gold  dust,  are  dissipated  in  the  strong  heat  of  the  blow- 
pipe. The  charcoal  was  prepared  beforehand,  a  slight 
hollow  being  cut  in  it  with  a  penknife,  in  the  bottom  of 
which  is  placed  a  globule  of  pure  gold,  the  top  of  which 
is  just  below  the  level  of  the  charcoal,  and  the  hollow  is 
filled  up  with  powdered  charcoal  mixed  with  a  little  bees- 
wax. The  "  chemist "  who  makes  the  experiments  must 
make  himself  familiar  with  the  distinctive  appearance  of  the 
charcoal,  so  as  to  pick  it  out  from  among  several  pieces, 
and  must  remember  exactly  where  the  crevice  is. 

236 


Vsevolod  Vladimirovitch  Krestovski 

On  this  first  occasion,  Escrocevitch  had  prepared  all  four 
pieces  of  charcoal,  which  were  brought  by  the  servant  in 
the  passage.  He  chose  as  his  temporary  abode  a  hotel 
whose  proprietor  was  an  old  ally  of  his,  and  the  servant 
was  also  a  confederate. 

Thus  was  founded  the  famous  "  Gold  Products  Com- 
pany," which  is  still  in  very  successful  operation,  and  is 
constantly  widening  its  sphere  of  activity. 


XVII 

THE   DELUGE 

COUNT  KALLASH  finally  decided  on  his  course  of  action. 
It  was  too  late  to  seek  justice  for  his  sister,  but  not  too 
late  for  a  tardy  reparation.  The  gang  had  prospered 
greatly,  and  the  share  of  Baroness  von  Doring  and  Bodlev- 
ski  already  amounted  to  a  very  large  figure.  Count  Kal- 
lash  determined  to  demand  for  his  sister  a  sum  equal  to 
that  of  the  securities  in  her  name  which  Natasha  had  stolen, 
calculating  that  this  would  be  enough  to  maintain  his  sister 
in  peace  and  comfort  to  the  end  of  her  days.  His  own 
life  was  too  stormy,  too  full  of  risks  for  him  to  allow 
his  sister's  fate  to  depend  on  his,  so  he  had  decided  to  set- 
tle her  in  some  quiet  nook  where,  free  from  danger,  she 
might  dream  away  her  few  remaining  years. 

To  his  surprise  Baroness  von  Doring  flatly  refused  to  be 
put  under  contribution. 

"  Your  demand  is  outrageous,"  she  said.  "  I  am  not 
going  to  be  the  victim  of  any  such  plot ! " 

"  Very  well,  I  will  compel  you  to  unmask?" 

"To  unmask?  What  do  you  mean,  count?  You  forget 
yourself!  " 

"  Well,  then,  I  shall  try  to  make  you  remember  me !  " 
And  Kallash  turned  his  back  on  her  and  strode  from  the 
room.  A  moment  later,  and  she  heard  the  door  close 
loudly  behind  him. 

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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

The  baroness  had  already  told  Bodlevski  of  her  meeting 
with  Princess  Anna,  and  she  now  hurried  to  him  for  coun- 
sel. They  agreed  that  their  present  position,  with  Kal- 
lash's  threats  hanging  over  their  heads,  was  intolerable. 
But  what  was  to  be  done? 

Bodlevski  paced  up  and  down  the  room,  biting  his  lips, 
and  seeking  some  decisive  plan. 

"  We  must  act  in  such  a  way,"  he  said,  coming  to  a  stand 
before  the  baroness,  "  as  to  get  rid  of  this  fellow  once  for 
all.  I  think  he  is  dangerous,  and  it  never  does  any  harm 
to  take  proper  precautions.  Get  the  money  ready,  Na- 
tasha; we  must  give  it  to  him." 

"  What !  give  him  the  money !  "  and  the  baroness  threw 
up  her  hands.  "Will  that  get  us  out  of  his  power?  Can 
we  feel  secure?  It  will  only  last  till  something  new  hap- 
pens. At  the  first  occasion " 

"Which  will  also  be  the  last!"  interrupted  Bodlevski. 
"Suppose  we  do  give  him  the  money  to-day;  does  that 
mean  that  we  give  it  for  good?  Not  at  all!  It  will  be  back 
in  my  pocket  to-morrow!  Let  us  think  it  out  properly!"" 
and  he  gave  her  a  friendly  pat  on  the  shoulder,  and  sat 
down  in  an  easy  chair  in  front  of  her. 

The  result  of  their  deliberations  was  a  little  note  ad- 
dressed to  Count  Kallash: 

"  DEAR  COUNT,"  it  ran,  "  I  was  guilty  of  an  act  'of  folly 
toward  you  to-day.  I  am  ashamed  of  it,  and  wish  to  make 
amends  as  soon  as  possible.  We  have  always  been  good 
friends,  so  let  us  forget  our  little  difference,  the  more  so 
that  an  alliance  is  much  more  advantageous  to  us  both 
than  a  quarrel.  Come  this  evening  to  receive  the  money 
you  spoke  of,  and  to  clasp  in  amity  the  hand  of  your  de- 
voted friend,  VON  D." 

Kallash  came  about  ten  o'clock  in  the  evening,  and 
received  from  Bodlevski  the  sum  of  fifty  thousand  rubles 
in  notes.  The  baroness  was  very  amiable,  and  persuaded 
him  to  have  some  tea.  There  was  not  a  suggestion  of 

238 


Vsevolod  Vladimir 'ovitch  Krcstovski 

future  difficulties,  and  everything  seemed  to  promise  per- 
fect harmony  for  the  future.  Bodlevski  talked  over  plans 
of  future  undertakings,  and  told  him,  with  evident  satis- 
faction, that  they  had  just  heard  of  the  arrest  of  the 
younger  Prince  Shadursky,  in  Paris,  for  attempting  to  de- 
fraud a  bank  by  a  pretended  sale  of  gold  dust.  Count 
Kallash  was  also  gay,  and  a  certain  satisfaction  filled  his 
mind  at  the  thought  of  his  sister's  security,  as  he  felt  the 
heavy  packet  of  notes  in  his  pocket.  He  smoked  his  cigar 
with  evident  satisfaction,  sipping  the  fragrant  tea  from 
time  to  time.  The  conversation  was  gay  and  animated, 
and  for  some  reason  or  other  turned  to  the  subject  of  clubs. 

"  Ah,  yes,"  interposed  Bodlevski,  "  a  propos!  I  expect 
to  be  a  member  of  the  Yacht  Club  this  summer.  Let  me 
recommend  to  you  a  new  field  of  action.  They  will  disport 
themselves  on  the  green  water,  and  we  on  the  green  cloth ! 
By  the  way,  I  forgot  to  speak  of  it — I  bought  a  boat  the 
other  day,  a  mere  rowboat.  It  is  on  the  Fontauka  Canal, 
at  the  Simeonovski  bridge.  We  must  come  for  a  row 
some  day." 

"  Delightful,"  exclaimed  the  baroness.  "  But  why  some 
day?  Why  not  to-night?  The  moon  is  beautiful,  and,  in- 
deed, it  is  hardly  dark  at  midnight.  Your  speaking  of 
boats  has  filled  me  with  a  sudden  desire  to  go  rowing. 
What  do  you  say,  dear  count?  "  and  she  turned  amiably  to 
Kallash. 

Count  Kallash  at  once  consented,  considering  the  bar- 
oness's idea  an  admirable  one,  and  they  were  soon  on  their 
way  toward  the  Simeonovski  bridge. 

"How  delightful  it  is!"  cried  the  baroness,  some  half 
hour  later,  as  they  were  gliding  over  the  quiet  water. 
"Count,  do  you  like  strong  sensations?"  she  asked  sud- 
denly. 

"  I  am  fond  of  strong  sensations  of  every  kind,"  he 
replied,  taking  up  her  challenge. 

"  Well,  I  am  going  to  offer  you  a  little  sensation,  though 
it  always  greatly  affects  me.  Everything  is  just  right  for  it, 
and  I  am  in  the  humor,  too." 

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Russian  Mystery  Stories 

"What  is  it  to  be?"  asked  Count  Kallash  indifferently. 

"  You  will  see  in  a  moment.  Do  you  know  that  there 
are  underground  canals  in  St.  Petersburg?" 

"  In  St.  Petersburg?  "  asked  Kallash  in  astonishment. 

"Yes,  in  St.  Petersburg!  A  whole  series  of  under- 
ground rivers,  wide  enough  for  a  boat  to  pass  through. 
I  have  rowed  along  them  several  times.  Does  not  that 
offer  a  new  sensation,  something  quite  unlike  St.  Peters- 
burg?" 

"  Yes,  it  is  certainly  novel,"  answered  Count  Kallash, 
now  interested.  "  Where  are  they?  Pray  show  them  to 
me." 

"There  is  one  a  few  yards  off.  Shall  we  enter?  You 
are  not  afraid?  "  she  said  with  a  smile  of  challenge. 

"  By  no  means — unless  you  command  me  to  be  afraid," 
Kallash  replied  in  the  same  tone.  "  Let  us  enter  at  once !  " 

"  Kasimir,  turn  under  the  arch !  "  and  the  boat  cut  across 
the  canal  toward  a  half  circle  of  darkness.  A  moment 
more  and  the  darkness  engulfed  them  completely.  They 
were  somewhere  under  the  Admiralty,  not  far  from  St. 
Isaac's  Cathedral.  Away  ahead  of  them  was  a  tiny  half 
circle  of  light,  where  the  canal  joined  the  swiftly  flowing 
Neva.  Carriages  rumbled  like  distant  thunder  above  their 
heads. 

"  Deuce  take  it!  it  is  really  rather  fine!  "  cried  the  count, 
with  evident  pleasure.  "  A  meeting  of  pirates  is  all  we  need 
to  make  it  perfect.  It  is  a  pity  that  we  cannot  see  where 
we  are ! " 

"  Light  a  match.     Have  you  any?  "  said  the  baroness. 

"  I  have,  and  wax  matches,  too."  The  count  took  out 
a  match  and  lit  it,  and  the  underground  stream  was  lit 
by  a  faint  ruddy  glow.  The  channel,  covered  by  a  semi- 
circular arch,  was  just  wide  enough  for  one  boat  to  pass 
through,  with  oars  out.  The  black  water  flowed  silently 
by  in  a  sluggish,  Stygian  stream.  Bats,  startled  by  the 
light,  fluttered  in  their  faces,  and  then  disappeared  in  the 
darkness. 

As  the  boat  glided  on,  the  match  burned  out  in  Count 
240 


Vsevolod  Vladimir ovitch  Krestovski 

Kallash's  fingers.  He  threw  it  into  the  water,  and  opened 
his  matchbox  to  take  another. 

At  the  same  moment  he  felt  a  sharp  blow  on  the  head, 
followed  by  a  second,  and  he  sank  senseless  in  the  bottom 
of  the  boat. 

"  Where  is  the  money  ?  "  cried  Bodlevski,  who  had  struck 
him  with  the  handle  of  the  oar.  "  Get  his  coat  open ! " 
and  the  baroness  deftly  drew  the  thick  packet  from  the 
breast  pocket  of  his  coat.  "Here  it  is!  I  have  it!"  she 
replied  quickly. 

"Now,  overboard  with  him!  Keep  the  body  steady!" 
A  dull  splash,  and  then  silence.  "  To-night  we  shall  sleep 
secure ! " 

They  counted  without  their  host.  Princess  Anna  had 
also  her  scheme  of  vengeance,  and  had  worked  it  out,  with- 
out a  word  to  her  brother.  When  Natasha  and  Bodlevski 
entered  their  apartment,  they  found  the  police  in  posses- 
sion, and  a  few  minutes  later  both  were  under  arrest. 
Abundant  evidence  of  fraud  and  forgery  was  found  in  their 
dwelling,  and  the  vast  Siberian  solitudes  avenged  the  death 
of  their  last  victim. 


241 


Jorgen  Wilhelm  Bergsoe 

The  Amputated  Arms 

TT  happened  when  I  was  about  eighteen  or  nineteen  years 

old  (began  Dr.  Simsen).  I  was  studying  at  the  Univer- 
sity, and  being  coached  in  anatomy  by  my  old  friend  Sol- 
ling.  He  was  an  amusing  fellow,  this  Soiling.  Full  of 
jokes  and  whimsical  ideas,  and  equally  merry,  whether  he 
was  working  at  the  dissecting  table  or  brewing  a  punch 
for  a  jovial  crowd. 

He  had  but  one  fault — if  one  might  call  it  so — and  that 
was  his  exaggerated  idea  of  punctuality.  He  grumbled  if 
you  were  late  two  minutes;  any  longer  delay  would  spoil 
the  entire  evening  for  him.  He  himself  was  never  known 
to  be  late.  At  least  not  during  the  entire  years  of  my 
studying. 

One  Wednesday  evening  our  little  circle  of  friends  met 
as  usual  in  my  room  at  seven  o'clock.  I  had  made  the  cus- 
tomary preparations  for  the  meeting,  had  borrowed  three 
chairs — I  had  but  one  myself — had  cleaned  all  my  pipes,  and 
had  persuaded  Hans  to  take  the  breakfast  dishes. from  the 
sofa  and  carry  them  downstairs.  One  by  one  my  friends 
arrived,  the  clock  struck  seven,  and  to  our  great  astonish- 
ment, Soiling  had  not  yet  appeared.  One,  two,  even  five 
minutes  passed  before  we  heard  him  run  upstairs  and  knock 
at  the  door  with  his  characteristic  short  blows. 

When  he  entered  the  room  he  looked  so  angry  and  at  the 
same  time  so  upset  that  I  cried  out :  "  What's  the  matter, 
Soiling?  You  look  as  if  you  had  been  robbed." 

"  That's  exactly  what  has  happened,"  replied  Soiling  an- 
grily. "  But  it  was  no  ordinary  sneak  thief,"  he  added, 
hanging  his  overcoat  behind  the  door. 

"  What  have  you  lost  ?  "  asked  my  neighbor  Nansen. 
242 


Jorgen  Wilhclm  Bergsoe 

"  Both  arms  from  the  new  skeleton  I've  just  recently 
received  from  the  hospital,"  said  Soiling  with  an  expres- 
sion as  if  his  last  cent  had  been  taken  from  him.  "  It's 
vandalism !  " 

We  burst  out  into  loud  laughter  at  this  remarkable  an- 
swer, but  Soiling  continued :  "  Can  you  imagine  it  ?  Both 
arms  are  gone,  cut  off  at  the  shoulder  joint; — and  the 
strangest  part  of  it  is  that  the  same  thing  has  been  done 
to  my  shabby  old  skeleton  which  stands  in  my  bedroom. 
There  wasn't  an  arm  on  either  of  them." 

"  That's  too  bad,"  I  remarked.  "  For  we  were  just  going 
to  study  the  anatomy  of  the  arm  to-night." 

"  Osteology,"  corrected  Soiling  gravely.  "  Get  out  your 
skeleton,  little  Sim  sen.  It  isn't  as  good  as  mine,  but  it  will 
do  for  this  evening." 

I  went  to  the  corner  where  my  anatomical  treasures  were 

hidden  behind  a  green  curtain — "  the  Museum,"  was  what 

tolling  called  it — but  my  astonishment  was  great  when  I 

found  my  skeleton  in  its  accustomed  place  and  wearing  as 

usual  my  student's  uniform — but  without  arms. 

"  The  devil !  "  cried  Soiling.  "  That  was  done  by  the 
same  person  who  robbed  me;  the  arms  are  taken  off  at 
the  shoulder  joint  in  exactly  the  same  manner.  You  did 
it,  Simsen !  " 

I  declared  my  innocence,  very  angry  at  the  abuse  of  my 

ic  skeleton,  while  Nansen  cried :  "  Wait  a  moment,  I'll 
bring  in  mine.  There  hasn't  been  a  soul  in  my  room  since 
this  morning,  I  can  swear  to  that.  I'll  be  back  in  an  in- 
stant." 

He  hurried  into  his  room,  but  returned  in  a  few  moments 
greatly  depressed  and  somewhat  ashamed.  The  skeleton 
was  in  its  usual  place,  but  the  arms  were  gone,  cut  off  at 
the  shoulder  in  exactly  the  same  manner  as  mine. 

The  affair,  mysterious  in  itself,  had  now  come  to  be  a 
serious  matter.  We  lost  ourselves  in  suggestions  and  ex- 
planations, none  of  which  seemed  to  throw  any  light  on  the 
subject.  Finally  we  sent  a  messenger  to  the  other  side  of 
the  house  where,  as  I  happened  to  know,  was  a  new  skele- 

243 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

ton  which  the  young  student  Ravn  had  recently  received 
from  the  janitor  of  the  hospital. 

Ravn  had  gone  out  and  taken  the  key  with  him.  The 
messenger  whom  we  had  sent  to  the  rooms  of  the  Iceland 
students  returned  with  the  information  that  one  of  them 
had  used  the  only  skeleton  they  possessed  to  pummel  the 
other  with,  and  that  consequently  only  the  thigh  bones  were 
left  unbroken. 

What  were  we  to  do  ?  We  couldn't  understand  the  mat- 
ter at  all.  Soiling  scolded  and  cursed  and  the  company 
was  about  to  break  up  when  we  heard  some  one  coming 
noisily  upstairs.  The  door  was  thrown  open  and  a  tall, 
thin  figure  appeared  on  the  threshold — our  good  friend 
Niels  Daae. 

He  was  a  strange  chap,  this  Niels  Daae,  the  true  type 
of  a  species  seldom  found  nowadays.  He  was  no  longer 
young,  and  by  reason  of  a  queer  chain  of  circumstances, 
as  he  expressed  it,  he  had  been  through  nearly  all  the  pro- 
fessions and  could  produce  papers  proving  that  he  had  been 
on  the  point  of  passing  not  one  but  three  examinations. 

He  had  begun  with  theology ;  but  the  story  of  the  quarrel 
between  Jacob  and  Esau  had  led  him  to  take  up  the  study 
of  law.  As  a  law  student  he  had  come  across  an  interest- 
ing poisoning  case,  which  had  proved  to  him  that  a  study 
of  medicine  was  extremely  necessary  for  lawyers ;  and  he 
had  taken  up  the  study  of  medicine  with  such  energy  that 
he  had  forgotten  all  his  law  and  was  about  to  take  his  last 
examinations  at  the  age  of  forty. 

Niels  Daae  took  the  story  of  our  troubles  very  seriously. 
"  Every  pot  has  two  handles/'  he  began.  "  Every  sausage 
two  ends,  every  question  two  sides,  except  this  one — this 
has  three."  (Applause.)  "  When  we  look  at  it  from  the  legal 
point  of  view  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  it  belongs  in  the 
category  of  ordinary  theft.  But  from  the  fact  that  the  thief 
took  only  the  arms  when  he  might  have  taken  the  entire 
skeleton,  we  must  conclude  that  he  is  not  in  a  responsible 
condition  of  mind,  which  therefore  introduces  a  medical 
side  to  the  affair.  From  a  legal  point  of  view,  the  thief 

244 


Jorgen  Wilhclm  Bergsoe 

must  be  convicted  for  robbery,  or  at  least  for  the  illegal 
appropriation  of  the  property  of  others ;  but  from  the  medi- 
cal point  of  view,  we  must  acquit  him,  because  he  is  not 
responsible  for  his  acts.  Here  we  have  two  professions 
quarreling  with  one  another,  and  who  shall  say  which  is 
right?  But  now  I  will  introduce  the  theological  point  of 
view,  and  raise  the  entire  affair  up  to  a  higher  plane. 
Providence,  in  the  material  shape  of  a  patron  of  mine  in 
the  country,  whose  children  I  have  inoculated  with  the 
juice  of  wisdom,  has  sent  me  two  fat  geese  and  two  first- 
class  ducks.  These  animals  are  to  be  cooked  and  eaten 
this  evening  in  Mathiesen's  establishment,  and  I  invite  this 
honored  company  to  join  me  there.  Personally  I  look  upon 
the  disappearance  of  these  arms  as  an  all-wise  intervention 
of  Providence,  which  sets  its  own  inscrutable  wisdom  up 
against  the  wisdom  which  we  would  otherwise  have  heard 
from  the  lips  of  my  venerable  friend  Soiling." 

Daae's  confused  speech  was  received  with  laughter  and 
applause,  and  Soiling's  weak  protests  were  lost  in  the  gen- 
eral delight  at  the  invitation.  I  have  often  noticed  that  such 
improvised  festivities  are  usually  the  most  enjoyable,  and 
so  it  was  for  us  that  evening.  Niels  Daae  treated  us  to 
his  ducks  and  to  his  most  amusing  jokes,  Soiling  sang  his 
best  songs,  our  jovial  host  Mathiesen  told  his  wittiest  sto- 
ries, and  the  merriment  was  in  full  swing  when  we  heard 
cries  in  the  street,  and  then  a  rush  of  confused  noises  broken 
by  screams  of  pain. 

"  There's  been  an  accident,"  cried  Soiling,  running  out 
to  the  door. 

We  all  followed  him  and  discovered  that  a  pair  of  run- 
away horses  had  thrown  a  carriage  against  a  tree,  hurling 
the  driver  from  his  box,  under  the  wheels.  His  right  arm 
had  been  broken  near  the  shoulder.  In  the  twinkling  of 
an  eye  the  hall  of  festivities  was  transformed  into  an  emer- 
gency hospital.  Soiling  shook  his  head  as  he  examined  the 
injury,  and  ordered  the  transport  of  the  patient  to  the  city 
hospital.  It  was  his  belief  that  the  arm  would  have  to  be 
amputated,  cut  off  at  the  shoulder  joint,  just  as  had  been 

245 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

the  case  with  our  skeleton.  "  Damned  odd  coincidence, 
isn't  it  ?  "  he  remarked  to  me. 

Our  merry  mood  had  vanished  and  we  took  our  way, 
quiet  and  depressed,  through  the  old  avenues  toward  our 
home.  For  the  first  time  in  its  existence  possibly,  our  ven- 
erable "  barracks,"  as  we  called  the  dormitory,  saw  its  occu- 
pants returning  home  from  an  evening's  bout  just  as  the 
night  watchman  intoned  his  eleven  o'clock  verse. 

"  Just  eleven,"  exclaimed  Soiling.  "  It's  too  early  to  go 
to  bed,  and  too  late  to  go  anywhere  else.  We'll  go  up  to 
your  room,  little  Simsen,  and  see  if  we  can't  have  some  sort 
of  a  lesson  this  evening.  You  have  your  colored  plates  and 
we'll  try  to  get  along  with  them.  It's  a  nuisance  that  we 
should  have  lost  those  arms  just  this  evening." 

"  The  Doctor  can  have  all  the  arms  and  legs  he  wants," 
grinned  Hans,  who  came  out  of  the  doorway  just  in  time 
to  hear  Soiling's  last  word. 

"  What  do  you  mean,  Hans  ?  "  asked  Soiling  in  astonish- 
ment. 

"  It'll  be  easy  enough  to  get  them,"  said  Hans.  "  They've 
torn  down  the  planking  around  the  Holy  Trinity  church- 
yard, and  dug  up  the  earth  to  build  a  new  wall.  I  saw  it 
myself,  as  I  came  past  the  church.  Lord,  what  a  lot  of 
bones  they've  dug  out  there!  There's  arms  and  legs 
and  heads,  many  more  than  the  Doctor  could  possibly 
need." 

"  Much  good  that  does  us,"  answered  Soiling.  "  They 
shut  the  gates  at  seven  o'clock  and  it's  after  eleven  already." 

"  Oh,  yes,  they  shut  them,"  grinned  Hans  again.  "  But 
there's  another  way  to  get  in.  If  you  go  through  the  gate 
of  the  porcelain  factory  and  over  the  courtyard,  and  through 
the  mill  in  the  fourth  courtyard  that  leads  out  into  Spring 
Street,  there  you  will  see  where  the  planking  is  torn  down, 
and  you  can  get  into  the  churchyard  easily." 

"  Hans,  you're  a  genius ! "  exclaimed  Soiling  in  delight. 
"  Here,  Simsen,  you  know  that  factory  inside  and  out, 
you're  so  friendly  with  that  fellow  Outzen  who  lives  there. 
Run  along  to  him  and  let  him  give  you  the  key  of  the  mill. 

246 


J  or  gen  Wilhelm  Bergsoe 

It  will  be  easy  to  find  an  arm  that  isn't  too  much  decayed. 
Hurry  along,  now;  the  rest  of  us  will  wait  for  you  up- 
stairs." 

To  be  quite  candid  I  must  confess  that  I  was  not  particu- 
larly eager  to  fulfill  Soiling's  command.  I  was  at  an  age 
to  have  still  a  sufficient  amount  of  reverence  for  death  and 
the  grave,  and  the  mysterious  occurrence*  of  the  stolen  arms 
still  ran  through  my  mind.  But  I  was  still  more  afraid  of 
Soiling's  irony  and  of  the  laughter  of  my  comrades,  so 
I  trotted  off  as  carelessly  as  if  I  had  been  sent  to  buy  a 
package  of  cigarettes. 

It  was  some  time  before  I  could  arouse  the  old  janitor 
of  the  factory  from  his  peaceful  slumbers.  I  told  him  that 
I  had  an  important  message  for  Outzen,  and  hurried  up- 
stairs to  the  latter's  room.  Outzen  was  a  strictly  moral 
character ;  knowing  this,  I  was  prepared  to  have  him  refuse 
me  the  key  which  would  let  me  into  the  fourth  courtyard 
and  from  there  into  the  cemetery.  As  I  expected,  Outzen 
took  the  matter  very  seriously.  He  closed  the  Hebrew 
Bible  which  he  had  been  studying  as  I  entered,  turned  up 
his  lamp  and  looked  at  me  in  astonishment  as  I  made  my 
request. 

"  Why,  my  dear  Simsen,  it  is  a  most  sinful  deed  that  you 
are  about  to  do,"  he  said  gravely.  "  Take  my  advice  and 
desist.  You  will  get  no  key  from  me  for  any  such  cause. 
The  peace  of  the  grave  is  sacred.  No  man  dare  disturb  it." 

"  And  how  about  the  gravedigger  ?  He  puts  the  newly 
dead  down  beside  the  old  corpses,  and  lives  as  peacefully 
as  anyone  else." 

"  He  is  doing  his  duty,"  answered  Outzen  calmly.  "  But 
to  disturb  the  peace  of  the  grave  from  sheer  daring,  with 
the  fumes  of  the  punch  still  in  your  head, — that  is  a  dif- 
ferent matter, — that  will  surely  be  punished !  " 

His  words  irritated  me.  It  is  not  very  flattering,  par- 
ticularly if  one  is  not  yet  twenty,  to  be  told  that  you  are 
about  to  perform  a  daring  deed  simply  because  you  are 
drunk.  Without  any  further  reply  to  his  protests  I  took 
the  key  from  its  place  on  the  wall  and  ran  downstairs  two 

247 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

steps  at  a  time,  vowing  to  myself  that  I  would  take  home 
an  arm  let  cost  what  it  would.  I  would  show  Outzen,  and 
Soiling,  and  all  the  rest,  what  a  devil  of  a  fellow  I  was. 

My  heart  beat  rapidly  as  I  stole  through  the  long  dark 
corridor,  past  the  ruins  of  the  old  convent  of  St.  Clara, 
into  the  so-called  third  courtyard.  Here  I  took  a  lantern 
from  the  hall,  lit  it  and  crossed  to  the  mill  where  the  clay 
was  prepared  for  the  factory.  The  tall  wheels  and  cylin- 
ders, with  their  straps  and  bolts,  looked  like  weird  crea- 
tures of  the  night  in  the  dim  light  of  my  tallow  candle. 
I  felt  my  courage  sinking  even  here,  but  I  pulled  my- 
self together,  opened  the  last  door  with  my  key  and 
stepped  out  into  the  fourth  courtyard.  A  moment  later  I 
stood  on  the  dividing  line  between  the  cemetery  and  the 
factory. 

The  entire  length  of  the  tall  blackened  planking  had 
been  torn  down.  The  pieces  of  it  lay  about,  and  the  earth 
had  been  dug  up  to  considerable  depth,  to  make  a  foun- 
dation for  a  new  wall  between  Life  and  Death.  The  un- 
canny emptiness  of  the  place  seized  upon  me.  I  halted 
involuntarily  as  if  to  harden  myself  against  it.  It  was  a 
raw,  cold,  stormy  evening.  The  clouds  flew  past  the  moon 
in  jagged  fragments,  so  that  the  churchyard,  with  its  white 
crosses  and  stones,  lay  now  in  full  light,  now  in  dim 
shadow.  Now  and  then  a  rush  of  wind  rattled  over  the 
graves,  roared  through  the  leafless  trees,  bent  the  com- 
plaining bushes,  and  caught  itself  in  the  little  eddy  at  the 
corner  of  the  church,  only  to  escape  again  over  the  roofs, 
turning  the  old  weather  vane  with  a  sharp  scream  of  the 
rusty  iron. 

I  looked  toward  the  left — there  I  saw  several  weird 
white  shapes  moving  gently  in  the  moonlight.  "  White 
sheets,"  I  said  to  myself,  "  it's  nothing  but  white  sheets ! 
This  drying  of  linen  in  the  churchyard  ought  to  be 
stopped." 

I  turned  in  the  opposite  direction  and  saw  a  heap  of 
bones  scarce  two  paces  distant  from  me.  Holding  my 
lantern  lower,  I  approached  them  and  stretched  out  my 

248 


Jorgen  Wilhelm  Bergsoe 

hand — there  was  a  rattling  in  the  heap;  something  warm 
and  soft  touched  my  fingers. 

I  started  and  shivered.  Then  I  exclaimed:  "The  rats! 
nothing  but  the  rats  in  the  churchyard!  I  must  not  get 
frightened.  It  will  be  so  foolish — they  would  laugh  at  me. 
Where  the  devil  is  that  arm?  I  can't  find  one  that  isn't 
broken!" 

With  trembling  knees  and  in  feverish  haste  I  examined 
one  heap  after  another.  The  light  in  my  lantern  flickered 
in  the  wind  and  suddenly  went  out.  The  foul  smell  of  the 
smoking  wick  rose  to  my  face  and  I  felt  as  if  I  were  about 
to  faint.  It  took  all  my  energy  to  recover  my  control.  I 
walked  two  or  three  steps  ahead,  and  saw  at  a  little  dis- 
tance a  coffin  which  had  been  still  in  good  shape  when 
taken  out  of  the  earth. 

I  approached  it  and  saw  that  it  was  of  old-fashioned 
shape,  made  of  heavy  oaken  boards  that  were  already 
rotting.  On  its  cover  was  a  metal  plate  with  an  illegible 
inscription.  The  old  wood  was  so  brittle  that  it  would 
have  been  very  easy  for  me  to  open  the  coffin  with  any  sort 
of  a  tool.  I  looked  about  me  and  saw  a  hatchet  and  a 
couple  of  spades  lying  near  the  fence.  I  took  one  of  the 
latter,  put  its  flat  end  between  the  boards — the  old  coffin 
fell  apart  with  a  dull  crackling  protest. 

I  turned  my  head  aside,  put  my  hand  in  through  the 
opening,  felt  about,  and  taking  a  firm  hold  on  one  arm  of 
the  skeleton,  I  loosened  it  from  the  body  with  a  quick 
jerk.  The  movement  loosened  the  head  as  well,  and  it 
rolled  out  through  the  opening  right  to  my  very  feet.  I 
took  up  the  skull  to  lay  it  in  the  coffin  again — and  then 
I  saw  a  greenish  phosphorescent  glimmer  in  its  empty 
eye  sockets,  a  glimmer  which  came  and  went.  Mad  ter- 
ror shook  me  at  the  sight.  I  looked  up  at  the  houses  in 
the  distance,  then  back  again  to  the  skull;  the  empty 
sockets  shone  more  brightly  than  before.  I  felt  that  I 
must  have  some  natural  explanation  for  this  appearance 
or  I  would  go  mad.  I  took  up  the  head  again — and  never 
in  my  life  have  I  had  so  overpowering  an  impression  of  the 

249 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

•might  of  death  and  decay  than  in  this  moment.  Myriads  of 
disgusting  clammy  insects  poured  out  of  every  opening  of 
the  skull,  and  a  couple  of  shining,  wormlike  centipedes — 
Geophiles,  the  scientists  call  them — crawled  about  in  the 
eye  sockets.  I  threw  the  skull  back  into  the  coffin,  sprang 
over  the  heaps  of  bones  without  even  taking  time  to  pick 
up  my  lantern,  and  ran  like  a  hunted  thing  through  the 
dark  mill,  over  the  factory  courtyards,  until  I  reached  the 
outer  gate.  Here  I  washed  the  arm  at  the  fountain,  and 
smoothed  my  disarranged  clothing.  I  hid  my  booty  under 
my  overcoat,  nodded  to  the  sleepy  old  janitor  as  he  opened 
the  door  to  me,  and  a  few  moments  later  I  entered  my  own 
room  with  an  expression  which  I  had  attempted  to  make 
quite  calm  and  careless. 

"  What  the  devil  is  the  matter  with  you,  Simsen?  "  cried 
Soiling  as  he  saw  me.  "  Have  you  seen  a  ghost?  Or  is 
the  punch  wearing  off  already?  We  thought  you'd  never 
come;  why,  it's  nearly  twelve  o'clock!  " 

Without  a  word  I  drew  back  my  overcoat  and  laid  my 
booty  on  the  table. 

"  By  all  the  devils,"  exclaimed  Soiling  in  anatomical  en- 
thusiasm, "where  did  you  find  that  superb  arm?  Simsen 
knows  what  he's  about  all  right.  It's  a  girl's  arm;  isn't  it 
beautiful?  Just  look  at  the  hand — how  fine  and  delicate 
it  is!  Must  have  worn  a  No.  6  glove.  There's  a  pretty 
hand  to  caress  and  kiss!" 

The  arm  passed  from  one  to  the  other  amid  general 
admiration.  Every  word  that  was  said  increased  my  dis- 
gust for  myself  and  for  what  I  had  done.  It  was  a  woman's 
arm,  then — what  sort  of  a  woman  might  she  have  been? 
Young  and  beautiful  possibly — her  brothers'  pride,  her 
parents'  joy.  She  had  faded  away  in  her  youth,  cared  for 
by  loving  hands  and  tender  thoughts.  She  had  fallen 
asleep  gently,  and  those  who  loved  her  had  desired  to  give 
her  in  death  the  peace  she  had  enjoyed  throughout  her 
lifetime.  For  this  they  had  made  her  coffin  of  thick, 
heavy  oaken  boards.  And  this  hand,  loved  and  missed  by 
.so  many — it  lay  there  now  on  an  anatomical  table,  en- 

250 


]  or  gen  Wilhdm  Bcrgsoe 

circled  by  clouds  of  tobacco  smoke,  stared  at  by  curious 
glances,  and  made  the  object  of  coarse  jokes.  O  God! 
how  terrible  it  was! 

"  I  must  have  that  arm,"  exclaimed  Soiling,  when  the 
first  burst  of  admiration  had  passed.  "  When  I  bleach  it 
and  touch  it  up  with  varnish,  it  will  be  a  superb  specimen. 
I'll  take  it  home  with  me." 

"  No,"  I  exclaimed,  "  I  can't  permit  it.  It  was  wrong  of 
me  to  bring  it  away  from  the  churchyard.  I'm  going  right 
back  to  put  the  arm  in  its  place." 

"Well,  will  you  listen  to  that?"  cried  Soiling,  amid  the 
hearty  laughter  of  the  others.  "  Simsen's  so  lyric,  he  cer- 
tainly must  be  drunk.  I  must  have  that  arm  at  any  cost." 

"  Not  much,"  cut  in  Niels  Daae;  "  you  have  no  right  to  it. 
It  was  buried  in  the  earth  and  dug  out  again;  it  is  a  find, 
and  all  the  rest  of  us  have  just  as  much  right  to  it  as  you 
have." 

"  Yes,  everyone  of  us  has  some  share  in  it,"  said  some 
one  else. 

"But  what  are  you  going  to  do  about  it?"  remarked 
Soiling.  "  It  would  be  vandalism  to  break  up  that  arm. 
What  God  has  joined  together  let  no  man  put  asunder," 
he  concluded  with  pathos. 

"  Let's  auction  it  off,"  exclaimed  Daae.  "  I  will  be  the 
auctioneer,  and  this  key  to  the  graveyard  will  serve  me  for 
a  hammer." 

The  laughter  broke  out  anew  as  Daae  took  his  place 
solemnly  at  the  head  of  the  table  and  began  to  whine  out 
the  following  announcement :  "  I  hereby  notify  all  present 
that  on  the  25th  of  November,  at  twelve  o'clock  at  mid- 
night, in  corridor  No.  5  of  the  student  barracks,  a  lady's  arm 
in  excellent  condition,  with  all  its  appurtenances  of  wrist 
bones,  joints,  and  finger  tips,  is  to  be  offered  at  public 
auction.  The  buyer  can  have  possession  of  his  purchase 
immediately  after  the  auction,  and  a  credit  of  six  weeks 
will  be  given  to  any  reliable  customer.  I  bid  a  Danish 
shilling." 

"  One  mark,"  cried  Soiling  mockingly. 
251 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

"  Two,"  cried  somebody  else. 

"  Four/'  exclaimed  Soiling.  "  It's  worth  it.  Why  don't 
you  join  in,  Simsen?  You  look  as  if  you  were  sitting  in 
a  hornet's  nest." 

I  bid  one  mark  more,  and  Soiling  raised  me  a  thaler. 
There  were  no  more  bids,  the  hammer  fell,  and  the  arm 
belonged  to  Soiling. 

"Here,  take  this,"  he  said,  handing  me  a  mark  piece; 
"  it's  part  of  your  commission  as  grave  robber.  You  shall 
have  the  rest  later,  unless  you  prefer  that  I  should  turn  it 
over  to  the  drinking  fund."  With  these  words  Soiling 
wrapped  the  arm  in  a  newspaper,  and  the  gay  crowd  ran 
noisily  down  the  stairs  and  through  the  streets,  until  their 
singing  and  laughter  were  lost  in  the  distance. 

I  stood  alone,  still  dazed  and  bewildered,  staring  at  the 
piece  of  money  in  my  hand.  My  thoughts  were  far  too 
much  excited  that  I  should  hope  to  sleep.  I  turned  up  my 
lamp  and  took  out  one  of  my  books  to  try  and  study  myself 
into  a  quieter  mood.  But  without  success. 

Suddenly  I  heard  a  sound  like  that  of  a  swinging  pen- 
dulum. I  raised  my  head  and  listened  attentively.  There 
was  no  clock  either  in  my  room  or  in  the  neighboring 
ones — but  I  could  still  hear  the  sound.  At  the  same  mo- 
ment my  lamp  began  to  flicker.  The  oil  was  apparently 
exhausted.  I  was  about  to  rise  to  fill  it  again,  when  my 
eyes  fell  upon  the  door,  and  I  saw  the  graveyard  key,  which 
I  had  hung  there,  moving  slowly  back  and  forth  with  a 
rhythmic  swing.  Just  as  its  motion  seemed  about  to  die 
away,  it  would  receive  a  gentle  push  as  from  an  unseen 
hand,  and  would  swing  back  and  forth  more  than  ever. 
I  stood  there  with  open  mouth  and  staring  eyes,  ice-cold 
chills  ran  down  my  back,  and  drops  of  perspiration  stood 
out  on  my  forehead.  Finally,  I  could  endure  it  no  longer. 
I  sprang  to  the  door,  seized  the  key  with  both  hands  and 
put  it  on  my  desk  under  a  pile  of  heavy  books.  Then  I 
breathed  a  sigh  of  relief. 

My  lamp  was  about  to  go  out  and  I  discovered  that  I 
had  no  more  oil.  With  feverish  haste  I  threw  my  clothes 

252 


Jorgcn  Wilhclm  Bcrgsoe 

off,  blew  out  the  light  and  sprang  into  bed  as  if  to  smother 
my  fears. 

But  once  alone  in  the  darkness  the  fears  grew  worse  than 
ever.  They  grew  into  dreams  and  visions.  It  seemed  to 
me  as  if  I  were  out  in  the  graveyard  again,  and  heard  the 
screaming  of  the  rusty  weather  vane  as  the  wind  turned  it. 
Then  I  was  in  the  mill  again;  the  wheels  were  turning  and 
stretching  out  ghostly  hands  to  draw  me  into  the  yawning 
maw  of  the  machine.  Then  again,  I  found  myself  in  a 
long,  low,  pitch-black  corridor,  followed  by  Something  I 
could  not  see — Something  that  drove  me  to  the  mouth  of 
a  bottomless  abyss.  I  would  start  up  out  of  my  half  sleep, 
listen  and  look  about  me,  then  fall  back  again  into  an  un- 
easy slumber. 

Suddenly  something  fell  from  the  ceiling  onto  the  bed, 
and  "  buzz — buzz — buzz  "  sounded  about  my  head.  It 
was  a  huge  fly  which  had  been  sleeping  in  a  corner  of  my 
room  and  had  been  roused  by  the  heat  of  the  stove.  It 
flew  about  in  great  circles,  now  around  the  bed,  now  in 
all  four  corners  of  the  chamber — "  buzz — buzz — buzz  " — 
it  was  unendurable!  At  last  I  heard  it  creep  into  a  bag 
of  sugar  which  had  been  left  on  the  window  sill.  I  sprang 
up  and  closed  the  bag  tight.  The  fly  buzzed  worse  than 
ever,  but  I  went  back  to  bed  and  attempted  to  sleep  again, 
feeling  that  I  had  conquered  the  enemy. 

I  began  to  count :  I  counted  slowly  to  one  hundred,  two 
hundred,  finally  up  to  one  thousand,  and  then  at  last  I  ex- 
perienced that  pleasant  weakness  which  is  the  forerunner 
of  true  sleep.  I  seemed  to  be  in  a  beautiful  garden,  bright 
with  many  flowers  and  odorous  with  all  the  perfumes  of 
spring.  At  my  side  walked  a  beautiful  young  girl.  I 
seemed  to  know  her  well,  and  yet  it  was  not  possible  for 
me  to  remember  her  name,  or  even  to  know  how  we  came 
to  be  wandering  there  together.  As  we  walked  slowly 
through  the  paths  she  would  stop  to  pick  a  flower  or  to 
admire  a  brilliant  butterfly  swaying  in  the  air.  Suddenly 
a  cold  wind  blew  through  the  garden.  The  young  girl 
trembled  and  her  cheeks  grew  pale.  "  I  am  cold,"  she  said 

253 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

to  me,  "  do  you  not  see?  It  is  Death  who  is  approaching 
us." 

I  would  have  answered,  but  in  the  same  moment  an- 
other stronger  and  still  more  icy  gust  roared  through  the 
garden.  The  leaves  turned  pale  on  the  trees,  the  flowerets 
bent  their  heads,  and  the  bees  and  butterflies  fell  lifeless 
to  the  earth.  "  That  is  Death,"  whispered  my  companion, 
trembling. 

A  third  icy  gust  blew  the  last  leaves  from  the  bushes, 
white  crosses  and  gravestones  appeared  between  the  bare 
twigs — and  I  was  in  the  churchyard  again  and  heard  the 
screaming  of  the  rusty  weather  vane.  Beside  me  stood  a 
heavy  brass-bound  coffin  with  a  metal  plate  on  the  cover. 
I  bent  down  to  read  the  inscription,  the  cover  rolled  off 
suddenly,  and  from  out  the  coffin  rose  the  form  of  the 
young  girl  who  had  been  with  me  in  the  garden.  I  stretched 
out  my  arms  to  clasp  her  to  my  breast — then,  oh  horror! 
I  saw  the  greenish-gleaming,  empty  eye  sockets  of  the 
skull.  I  felt  bony  arms  around  me,  dragging  me  back  into 
the  coffin.  I  screamed  aloud  for  help  and  woke  up. 

My  room  seemed  unusually  light;  but  I  remembered 
that  it  was  a  moonlight  night  and  thought  no  more  of  it. 
I  tried  to  explain  the  visions  of  my  dream  with  various 
natural  noises  about  me.  The  imprisoned  fly  buzzed  as 
loudly  as  a  whole  swarm  of  bees;  one  half  of  my  window 
had  blown  open,  and  the  cold  night  air  rushed  in  gusts 
into  my  room. 

I  sprang  up  to  close  the  window,  and  then  I  saw  that  the 
strong  white  light  that  filled  my  room  did  not  come  from 
the  moon,  but  seemed  to  shine  out  from  the  church  oppo- 
site. I  heard  the  chiming  of  the  bells,  soft  at  first,  as  if 
in  far  distance,  then  stronger  and  stronger  until,  mingled 
with  the  rolling  notes  of  the  organ,  a  mighty  rush  of  sound 
struck  against  my  windows.  I  stared  out  into  the  street 
and  could  scarcely  believe  my  eyes.  The  houses  in  the 
market  place  just  beyond  were  all  little  one-story  buildings 
with  bow  windows  and  wooden  eave  troughs  ending  in 
carved  dragon  heads.  Most  of  them  had  balconies  of 

254 


Jorgcn  Wilhelm  Bergsoe 

carved  woodwork,  and  high  stone  stoops  with  gleaming- 
brass  rails. 

But  it  was  the  church  most  of  all  that  aroused  my  aston- 
ishment. Its  position  was  completely  changed.  Its  front 
turned  toward  our  house  where  usually  the  side  had  stood. 
The  church  was  brilliantly  lighted,  and  now  I  perceived 
that  it  was  this  light  which  filled  my  room.  I  stood 
speechless  amid  the  chiming  of  the  bells  and  the  roaring 
of  the  organ,  and  I  saw  a  long  wedding  procession  moving* 
slowly  up  the  center  aisle  of  the  church  toward  the  altar. 
The  light  was  so  brilliant  that  I  could  distinguish  each  one 
of  the  figures.  They  were  all  in  strange  old-time  costumes ; 
the  ladies  in  brocades  and  satins  with  strings  of  pearls  in 
their  powdered  hair,  the  gentlemen  in  uniform  with  knee 
breeches,  swords,  and  cocked  hats  held  under  their  arms. 
But  it  was  the  bride  who  drew  my  attention  most  strongly. 
She  was  clothed  in  white  satin,  and  a  faded  myrtle  wreath 
was  twisted  through  the  powdered  locks  beneath  her 
sweeping  veil.  The  bridegroom  at  her  side  wore  a  red 
uniform  and  many  decorations.  Slowly  they  approached 
the  altar,  where  an  old  man  in  black  vestments  and  a  heavy 
white  wig  was  awaiting  them.  They  stood  before  him,  and 
I  could  see  that  he  was  reading  the  ritual  from  a  gold-let- 
tered book. 

One  of  the  train  stepped  forward  and  unbuckled  the 
bridegroom's  sword,  that  his  right  hand  might  be  free  to 
take  that  of  the  bride.  She  seemed  about  to  raise  her  own 
hand  to  his,  when  she  suddenly  sank  fainting  at  his  feet. 
The  guests  hurried  toward  the  altar,  the  lights  went  out, 
the  music  stopped,  and  the  figures  floated  together  like  pale 
white  mists. 

But  outside  in  the  square  it  was  still  brighter  than  before, 
and  I  suddenly  saw  the  side  portal  of  the  church  burst 
open  and  the  wedding  procession  move  out  across  the 
market  place. 

I  turned  as  if  to  flee,  but  could  not  move  a  muscle. 
Quiet,  as  if  turned  to  stone,  I  stood  and  watched  the  ghostly 
figures  that  came  nearer  and  nearer.  The  clergyman  led 

255 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

the  train,  then  came  the  bridegroom  and  the  bride,  and  as 
the  latter  raised  her  eyes  to  me  I  saw  that  it  was  the  young 
girl  of  the  garden.  Her  eyes  were  so  full  of  pain,  so  full 
of  sad  entreaty  that  I  could  scarce  endure  them;  but  how 
shall  I  explain  the  feeling  that  shot  through  me  as  I  sud- 
denly discovered  that  the  right  sleeve  of  her  white  satin 
gown  hung  empty  at  her  side  ?  The  train  disappeared,  and 
the  tone  of  the  church  bells  changed  to  a  strange,  dry, 
creaking  sound,  and  the  gate  below  me  complained  as  it 
turned  on  its  rusty  hinges.  I  faced  toward  my  own  door. 
I  knew  that  it  was  shut  and  locked,  but  I  knew  that  the 
ghostly  procession  were  coming  to  call  me  to  account, 
and  I  felt  that  no  walls  could  keep  them  out.  My  door 
flew  open,  there  was  a  rustling  as  of  silken  gowns,  but 
the  figures  seemed  to  float  in  in  the  changing  forms  of 
swaying  white  mists.  Closer  and  closer  they  gathered 
around  me,  robbing  me  of  breath,  robbing  me  of  the  power 
to  move.  There  was  a  silence  as  of  the  grave — and  then 
I  saw  before  me  the  old  priest  with  his  gold-lettered  book. 
He  raised  his  hand  and  spoke  with  a  soft,  deep  voice  :  "  The 
grave  is  sacred!  Let  no  one  dare  to  disturb  the  peace 
of  the  dead." 

"  The  grave  is  sacred !  "  an  echo  rolled  through  the  room 
as  the  swaying  figures  moved  like  reeds  in  the  wind. 

"  What  do  you  want  ?  What  do  you  demand?  "  I  gasped 
in  the  grip  of  a  deathly  fear. 

"  Give  back  to  the  grave  that  which  belongs  to  it,"  said 
the  deep  voice  again. 

"  Give  back  to  the  grave  that  which  belongs  to  it,"  re- 
peated the  echo  as  the  swaying  forms  pressed  closer  to  me. 

"  But  it's  impossible — I  can't — I  have  sold  it — sold  it 
at  auction!"  I  screamed  in  despair.  "It  was  buried  and 
found  in  the  earth — and  sold  for  five  marks  eight  shil- 
lings  " 

A  hideous  scream  came  from  the  ghostly  ranks.  They 
threw  themselves  upon  me  as  the  white  fog  rolls  in  from 
the  sea,  they  pressed  upon  me  until  I  could  no  longer 
breathe.  Beside  myself,  I  threw  open  the  window  and  at- 

256 


Jorgen  Wilhelm  Bergsoe 

tempted  to  spring  out,  screaming  aloud :  "  Help !  help ! 
murder !  they  are  murdering  me !  " 

The  sound  of  my  own  voice  awoke  me.  I  found  myself 
in  my  night  clothes  on  the  window  sill,  one  leg  already 
out  of  the  window  and  both  hands  clutching  at  the  center 
post.  On  the  street  below  me  stood  the  night  watchman, 
staring  up  at  me  in  astonishment,  while  faint  white  clouds 
of  mist  rolled  out  of  my  window  like  smoke.  All  around 
outside  lay  the  November  fog,  gray  and  moist,  and  as  the 
fresh  air  of  the  early  dawn  blew  cool  on  my  face  I  felt  my 
senses  returning  to  me.  I  looked  down  at  the  night  watch- 
man— God  bless  him!  He  was  a  big,  strong,  comfortably 
fat  fellow  made  of  real  flesh  and  blood,  and  no  ghost  shape 
of  the  night.  I  looked  at  the  round  tower  of  the  church — 
how  massive  and  venerable  it  stood  there,  gray  in  the  gray 
of  the  morning  mists.  I  looked  over  at  the  market  place. 
There  was  a  light  in  the  baker  shop  and  a  farmer  stood  be- 
fore it,  tying  his  horse  to  a  post.  Back  in  my  own  room 
everything  was  in  its  usual  place.  Even  the  little  paper  bag 
with  the  sugar  lay  there  on  the  window  sill,  and  the  im- 
prisoned fly  buzzed  louder  than  ever.  I  knew  that  I  was 
really  awake  and  that  the  day  was  coming.  I  sprang  back 
hastily  from  the  window  and  was  about  to  jump  into  bed, 
when  my  foot  touched  something  hard  and  sharp. 

I  stooped  to  see  what  it  was,  felt  about  on  the  floor  in 
the  half  light,  and  touched  a  long,  dry,  skeleton  arm  which 
held  a  tiny  roll  of  paper  in  its  bony  fingers.  I  felt  about 
again,  and  found  still  another  arm,  also  holding  a  roll  of 
paper.  Then  I  began  to  think  that  my  reason  must  be 
going.  What  I  had  seen  thus  far  was  only  an  unusually 
vivid  dream — a  vision  of  my  heated  imagination.  But  I 
knew  that  I  was  awake  now,  and  yet  here  lay  two — no, 
three  (for  there  was  still  another  arm) — hard,  undeniable, 
material  proofs  that  what  I  had  thought  was  hallucination, 
might  have  been  reality.  Trembling  in  the  thought  that 
madness  was  threatening  me,  I  tore  open  the  first  roll  of 
paper.  On  it  was  written  the  name :  "  Soiling."  I  caught 
at  the  second  and  opened  it.  There  stood  the  word :  "  Nan- 

257 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

sen."  I  had  just  strength  enough  left  to  catch  the  third 
paper  and  open  it — there  was  my  own  name :  "  Simsen." 

Then  I  sank  fainting  to  the  floor. 

When  I  came  to  myself  again,  Niels  Daae  stood  beside 
me  with  an  empty  water  bottle,  the  contents  of  which  were 
dripping  off  my  person  and  off  the  sofa  upon  which  I  was 
lying.  "  Here,  drink  this,"  he  said  in  a  soothing  tone.  "  It 
will  make  you  feel  better." 

I  looked  about  me  wildly,  as  I  sipped  at  the  glass  of 
brandy  which  put  new  life  into  me  once  more.  "  What  has 
happened  ?  "  I  asked  weakly. 

"  Oh,  nothing  of  importance,"  answered  Niels.  "  You 
were  just  about  to  commit  suicide  by  means  of  charcoal 
gas.  Those  are  mighty  bad  ventilators  on  your  old  stove 
there.  The  wind  must  have  blown  them  shut,  unless  you 
were  fool  enough  to  close  them  yourself  before  you  went 
to  bed.  If  you  had  not  opened  the  window,  you  would 
have  already  been  too  far  along  the  path  to  Paradise  to  be 
called  back  by  a  glass  of  brandy.  Take  another." 

"  How  did  you  get  up  here  ?  "  I  asked,  sitting  upright  on 
the  sofa. 

"  Through  the  door  in  the  usual  simple  manner,"  an- 
swered Niels  Daae.  "  I  was  on  watch  last  night  in  the  hos- 
pital ;  but  Mathiesen's  punch  is  heavy  and  my  watching  was 
more  like  sleeping,  so  I  thought  it  better  to  come  away 
in  the  early  morning.  As  I  passed  your  barracks  here,  I 
saw  you  sitting  in  the  window  in  your  nightshirt  and  call- 
ing down  to  the  night  watchman  that  some  one  was  mur- 
dering you.  I  managed  to  wake  up  Jansen  down  below 
you,  and  got  into  the  house  through  his  window.  Do  you 
usually  sleep  on  the  bare  floor?" 

"But  where  did  the  arms  come  from?"  I  asked,  still 
half  bewildered. 

"  Oh,  the  devil  take  those  arms,"  cried  Niels.  "  Just 
see  if  you  can  stand  up  all  right  now.  Oh,  those  arms 
there?  Why,  those  are  the  arms  I  cut  off  your  skeletons. 
Clever  idea,  wasn't  it?  You  know  how  grumpy  Soiling 
gets  if  anything  interferes  with  his  tutoring.  You  see,  I'd 

258 


Jorgen  Wilhelm  Bergsoe 

had  the  geese  sent  me,  and  I  wanted  you  to  all  come  with 
me  to  Mathiesen's  place.  I  knew  you  were  going  to  read 
the  osteology  of  the  arm,  so  I  went  up  into  Soiling's  room, 
opened  it  with  his  own  keys  and  took  the  arms  from  his 
skeleton.  I  did  the  same  here  while  you  were  downstairs 
in  the  reading  room.  Have  you  been  stupid  enough  to 
take  them  down  off  their  frames,  and  take  away  their  tick- 
ets ?  I  had  marked  them  so  carefully,  that  each  man  should 
get  his  own  again." 

I  dressed  hastily  and  went  out  with  Niels  into  the  fresh, 
cool  morning  air.  A  few  minutes  later  we  separated,  and  I 
turned  toward  the  street  where  Soiling  lived.  Without 
heeding  the  protest  of  his  old  landlady,  I  entered  the  room 
where  he  still  slept  the  sleep  of  the  just.  The  arm,  still 
wrapped  in  newspaper,  lay  on  his  desk.  I  took  it  up,  put 
the  mark  piece  in  its  place  and  hastened  with  all  speed  to 
the  churchyard. 

How  different  it  looked  in  the  early  dawn !  The  fog  had 
risen  and  shining  frost  pearls  hung  in  the  bare  twigs  of  the 
tall  trees  where  the  sparrows  were  already  twittering  their 
morning  song.  There  was  no  one  to  be  seen.  The  church- 
yard lay  quiet  and  peaceful.  I  stepped  over  the  heaps  of 
bones  to  where  the  heavy  oaken  coffin  lay  under  a  tree. 
Cautiously  I  pushed  the  arm  back  into  its  interior,  and  ham- 
mered the  rusty  nails  into  their  places  again,  just  as  the 
first  rays  of  the  pale  November  sun  touched  a  gleam  of 
light  from  the  metal  plate  on  the  cover. — Then  the  weight 
was  lifted  from  my  soul. 


259 


Otto  Larssen 
The  Manuscript 

gentlemen  sat  chatting  together  one  evening. 
Their  daily  business  was  to  occupy  themselves  with  lit- 
erature. At  the  present  moment  they  were  engaged  in 
drinking  whisky, — an  occupation  both  agreeable  and  use- 
ful,— and  in  chatting  about  books,  the  theater,  women  and 
many  other  things.  Finally  they  came  around  to  that  in- 
exhaustible subject  for  conversation,  the  mysterious  life  of 
the  soul,  the  hidden  things,  the  Unknown,  that  theme  for 
which  Shakespeare  has  given  us  an  oft-quoted  and  oft- 
abused  device,  which  one  of  the  men,  Mr.  X.,  now  used  to 
point  his  remarks.  Raising  his  glass,  he  looked  at  himself 
meditatively  in  a  mirror  opposite,  and,  in  a  good  imitation 
of  the  manner  of  his  favorite  actor,  he  quoted : 

"  There  are  more  things  in  heaven  and  earth  than  are 
dreamt  of  in  thy  philosophy,  Horatio." 

Mr.  Y.  arranged  a  fresh  glass  for  himself,  and  answered : 

"  I  believe  it.  I  believe  also  that  it  is  given  but  to  a  few 
chosen  ones  to  see  these  things.  It  never  fell  to  my  lot,  I 
know.  Fortunately  for  me,  perhaps.  For, — at  least  so  it 
appears  to  me, — these  chosen  ones  appear  on  closer  in- 
vestigation to  be  individuals  of  an  abnormal  condition  of 
brain.  As  far  as  I  personally  am  concerned,  I  know  of 
nothing  more  strange  than  the  usual  logical  and  natural 
sequence  of  events  on  our  globe.  I  confess  things  do  some- 
times happen  outside  of  this  orderly  sequence ;  but  for  the 
cold-blooded  and  thoughtful  person  the  Strange,  the  ap- 
parently Inexplicable,  usually  turns  out  to  be  a  sum  of 
Chance,  that  Chance  we  will  never  be  quite  clever  enough 
to  fully  take  into  our  calculations. 

"  As  an  instance  I  would  like  to  tell  you  the  story  of 
260 


Otto  Larssen 

what  happened  several  years  back  to  a  friend  of  mine,  a 
young  French  writer.  He  had  a  good,  sincere  mind,  but 
he  had  also  a  strong  leaning  toward  mysticism, — something 
which  was  just  then  in  danger  of  becoming  as  much  of  a 
fashion  in  France  as  it  is  here  now.  The  event  of  which  I 
am  about  to  tell  you  threw  him  into  what  was  almost  a  de- 
lirium, which  came  near  to  robbing  him  of  his  normal  in- 
telligence, and  therefore  came  near  to  robbing  French  read- 
ers of  a  few  excellent  books. 

"  This  was  the  way  it  happened : 

"  It  was  about  ten  years  back,  and  I  was  spending  the 
spring  and  summer  in  Paris.  I  had  a  room  with  the  family 
of  a  concierge  on  the  left  bank,  rue  de  Vaugirard,  near  the 
Luxembourg  Gardens. 

"  A  few  steps  from  my  modest  domicile  lived  my  friend 
Lucien  F.  We  had  become  acquainted  through  a  chain  of 
circumstances  which  do  not  belong  to  this  story,  but  these 
circumstances  had  made  firm  friends  of  us,  a  friendship 
which  was  a  source  of  great  pleasure  and  also  of  assistance 
to  me  in  my  study  of  Paris  conditions.  This  friendship  also 
enabled  me  to  enjoy  better  and  cheaper  whisky  than  one 
can  usually  meet  with  in  the  city  by  the  Seine,  a  real  good 
'  Jameson  Highland.' 

"  Lucien  F.  had  already  published  several  books  which 
had  aroused  attention  through  the  oddity  of  their  themes, 
and  their  gratifying  success  had  made  it  possible  for  him  to 
establish  himself  in  a  comfortably  furnished  bachelor  apart- 
ment on  the  corner  of  the  rue  de  Vaugirard  and  the  rue  de 
Conde. 

"  The  apartment  had  a  corridor  and  three  rooms ;  a  din- 
ing room,  a  bedroom,  and  a  charming  study  with  an  in- 
closed balcony,  the  three  windows  of  which, — a  large  one 
in  the  center  and  two  smaller  ones  at  the  side, — sent  a  flood 
of  light  in  over  the  great  writing  table  which  filled  nearly 
the  entire  balcony.  Inside  the  room,  near  the  balcony, 
stood  a  divan  covered  with  a  bearskin  rug.  Upon  this  divan 
I  spent  many  of  my  hours  in  Paris,  occupied  in  the  smoking 
of  my  friend's  excellent  cigars,  and  the  sampling  of  his 

261 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

superlatively  good  whisky.  At  the  same  time  I  could  lie 
staring  up  at  the  tops  of  the  trees  in  the  Luxembourg  Gar- 
dens, while  Lucien  worked  at  his  desk.  For,  unlike  most 
writers,  he  could  work  best  when  he  was  not  alone. 

"  If  I  remained  away  several  days,  he  would  invariably 
ring  my  bell  early  some  morning,  and  drag  me  out  of  bed 
with  the  remark:  'The  whisky  is  ready.  I  can't  write  if 
you  are  not  there/ 

"  During  the  particular  days  of  which  I  shall  tell  you,  he 
was  engaged  in  the  writing  of  a  fantastic  novelette,  '  The 
Force  of  the  Wind,'  a  work  which  interested  him  greatly, 
and  which  he  would  interrupt  unwillingly  at  intervals  to  fur- 
nish copy  for  the  well-known  newspaper  that  numbered  him 
among  the  members  of  its  staff.  His  books  were  printed 
by  the  same  house  that  did  the  printing  for  the  paper. 

"  Often,  as  I  lay  in  my  favorite  position  on  the  divan,  the 
bell  would  ring  and  we  would  be  honored  by  a  visit  from 
the  printer's  boy  Adolphe,  a  little  fellow  in  a  blue  blouse, 
the  true  type  of  Paris  gamin.  Adolphe  rejoiced  in  a  broken 
nose,  a  pair  of  crafty  eyes,  and  had  his  fists  always  full  of 
manuscripts  which  he  treated  with  a  carelessness  that  would 
have  driven  a  literary  novice  to  despair.  The  long  rolls  of 
yellow  paper  would  hang  out  of  his  trousers  pockets  as  if 
ready  to  fall  apart  at  his  next  movement.  And  the  disre- 
spectful manner  in  which  he  crammed  my  friend  Lucien's 
scarcely  dried  essay  into  the  breast  of  his  blouse  would  have 
certainly  called  forth  remarks  from  a  journalist  of  more 
self-conceit. 

"  But  his  eyes  were  so  full  of  sly  cunning,  and  there  was 
such  an  atmosphere  of  Paris  about  the  stocky  little  fourteen- 
year-old  chap,  that  we  would  often  keep  him  longer  with 
us,  and  treat  him  to  a  glass  of  anisette  to  hear  his  opinion 
of  the  writers  whose  work  he  handled.  He  was  an  amusing 
cross  between  a  tricky  little  Paris  gamin  and  a  real  child, 
and  he  hit  off  the  characteristics  of  the  various  writers  with 
as  keen  a  touch  of  actuality  as  he  could  put  into  his  stories 
of  how  many  centimes  he  had  won  that  morning  at  '  craps ' 
from  his  friend  Pierre.  Pierre  was  another  employee  of  the 

262 


Otto  Larssen 

printing  house,  Adolphe's  comrade  in  his  study  of  the  mys- 
teries of  Paris  streets,  and  now  his  rival.  They  were  both 
in  love  with  the  same  girl,  the  fifteen-year-old  daughter  of 
the  keeper  of  '  La  Prunelle '  Cafe,  and  her  favor  was  often 
the  prize  of  the  morning's  game. 

"  Now  and  then  this  rivalry  between  the  two  young 
Parisians  would  drop  into  a  hand-to-hand  fight.  I  myself 
was  witness  to  such  a  skirmish  one  day,  in  front  of  '  La 
Prunelle.'  The  rivals  pulled  each  other's  hair  mightily 
while  the  manuscripts  flew  about  over  the  pavement,  and 
Virginie,  in  her  short  skirts,  stood  at  the  door  of  the  cafe 
and  laughed  until  she  seemed  about  to  shake  to  pieces. 

"  Pierre  was  the  strongest,  and  Adolphe  came  off  with  a 
bloody  nose.  He  gathered  up  his  manuscripts  in  grim  si- 
lence and  left  the  battlefield  and  the  still  laughing  Virginie 
with  an  expression  of  deep  anger  on  his  wounded  face. 

"  The  following  day,  when  I  teased  him  a  little  because 
of  his  defeat,  he  smiled  a  sly  smile  and  remarked : 

'  Yes,  but  I  won  a  franc  from  him,  the  big  stupid  ani^ 
mal.  And  so  it  was  I,  after  all,  who  took  Virginie  out  that 
evening.  We  went  to  the  Cafe  "  Neant,"  where  I  let  them 
put  me  in  the  coffin  and  pretend  to  be  decaying,  to  amuse 
her.  She  thought  it  was  lots  of  fun.' 

"  One  morning  Lucien  had  come  for  me  as  usual,  put  me 
on  the  divan,  and  seated  himself  at  his  writing  table.  He 
was  just  putting  the  last  words  to  his  novel,  and  the  table 
was  entirely  covered  with  the  scattered  leaves,  closely  writ- 
ten. I  could  just  see  his  neck  as  he  sat  there,  a  thin- 
sinewed,  expressive  neck.  He  bent  over  his  work,  blind 
and  deaf  for  anything  else.  I  lay  there  and  gazed  out  over 
the  tops  of  the  trees  in  the  park  up  into  the  blue  summer 
sky.  The  window  on  the  left  side  of  the  desk  stood  wide 
open,  for  it  was  a  warm  and  sultry  day.  I  sipped  my  whisky 
slowly.  The  air  was  heavy,  and  thunder  threatened  in  the 
distance.  After  a  little  while  the  clouds  gathered  together, 
heavy,  low-hanging,  copper-hued,  real  thunder  clouds,  and 
the  trees  in  the  park  rustled  softly.  The  air  was  stifling, 
and  lay  heavy  as  lead  on  my  breast. 

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Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

"  '  Lucien  ! ' 

"  Lucien  did  not  hear  or  see  anything,  his  pen  flew  over 
the  paper. 

"  I  fell  back  lazily  on  my  divan. 

"  Then,  suddenly,  there  was  a  mighty  tumult.  A  strong 
gust  of  wind  swept  through  the  street,  bending  the  trees  in 
the  gardens  quite  out  of  my  horizon.  With  a  crash  the 
right-hand  window  in  the  balcony  flew  wide  open,  and  like 
a  cyclone,  the  wind  swept  through,  clearing  the  table  in  an 
instant  of  all  the  loose  sheets  of  paper  that  had  lain  scat- 
tered about  it. 

"  '  The  devil !  Why  don't  you  shut  the  window ! '  I  cried, 
springing  up  from  the  sofa. 

" '  Spare  your  energy,  it's  too  late/  said  Lucien  with  a 
gentle  mockery  in  his  soft  voice.  '  Look  there ! ' — he 
pointed  out  into  the  street,  where  his  sheets  of  paper  went 
swirling  about  in  the  heavy  air  like  white  doves. 

"  A  second  later  came  the  rain,  a  veritable  cloud-burst. 
We  shut  the  windows  and  gave  ourselves  up  to  melancholy 
thoughts  about  the  lost  manuscript,  the  recovery  of  which 
now  seemed  utterly  hopeless. 

"  '  That's  one  thousand  francs,  at  least,  that  the  wind  has 
robbed  me  of,'  sighed  Lucien.  '  Well,  enfin,  that  doesn't 
matter  so  much.  But  do  you  know  anything  more  tiresome 
than  to  work  over  the  same  subject  a  second  time?  I  can't 
think  of  doing  it.  It  would  fairly  make  me  sick  to  try  it/ 

"  We  were  in  a  sad  mood  that  morning.  When  we  went 
out  to  breakfast  at  about  two  o'clock,  we  looked  about  for 
some  traces  of  the  lost  manuscript. 

"  There  was  nothing  to  be  seen.  It  had  vanished  com- 
pletely, whirled  off  to  all  four  corners  of  the  earth  prob- 
ably, this  manuscript  from  which  Lucien  had  expected  so 
much.  Truly  it  was  '  The  Force  of  the  Wind/ 

"  Now  comes  the  strange  part  of  the  story.  One  morn- 
ing, two  weeks  later,  Lucien  stood  in  the  door  of  my  little 
room,  pale  as  a  ghost.  He  had  a  bundle  of  printer's  proofs 
in  his  hand,  and  held  them  out  to  me  without  a  word. 

264 


Otto  Larssen 

"  I  looked  at  it  and  read : 

"  ' "  The  Force  of  the  Wind,"  by  Lucien  F.' 

"  It  was  a  good  bundle  of  proofs,  the  entire  first  proofs 
of  Lucien's  novel,  that  novel  the  manuscript  of  which  we 
had  seen  blown  out  of  the  balcony  window  and  whirled 
away  by  the  winds. 

"  '  My  dear  man/  I  exclaimed,  as  I  handed  him  back  the 
proofs.  '  You  have  been  industrious  indeed,  to  write  your 
entire  novel  over  again  in  so  short  a  time — and  to  have 
proofs  already ' 

"  Lucien  did  not  answer.  He  stood  silent,  staring  at  me 
with  a  weird  look  in  his  otherwise  so  sensible  eyes.  After 
a  moment  he  stammered : 

"  '  I  did  not  write  the  novel  over  again.  I  have  not 
touched  a  pen  since  the  day  the  manuscript  blew  out  of 
the  window.' 

"  '  Are  you  a  sleep-walker,  Lucien  ?  ' 

"'Why  do  you  ask?' 

" '  Why,  that  would  be  the  only  natural  explanation. 
They  say  we  can  do  a  great  many  things  in  sleep,  of  which 
we  know  nothing  when  we  wake.  I've  heard  queer  stories 
of  that.  Men  have  committed  murders  in  their  sleep.  It 
happens  quite  often  that  sleep-walkers  write  letters  in  a 
handwriting  they  do  not  recognize  when  awake/ 

"  '  I  have  never  been  a  sleep-walker/  answered  Lucien. 

" '  Oh,  you  never  can  tell/  I  remarked.  '  Would  you 
rather  explain  it  as  magic?  Or  as  the  work  of  fairies? 
Or  do  you  believe  in  ghosts?  Your  muse  has  fascinated 
you,  you  mystic ! '  And  I  laughed  and  trilled  a  line  from 
'  The  Mascot/  which  we  had  seen  the  evening  before  at 
the  Lyric. 

"  But  my  merriment  did  not  seem  to  strike  an  answering 
note  in  Lucien.  He  turned  from  me  in  silence,  and  with 
an  offended  expression  took  his  hat  and  his  proofs,  and — 
humorist  and  skeptic  as  he  was  ordinarily,  he  parted  from 
me  with  the  words,  uttered  in  a  theatrical  tone: 

" '  There  are  more  things  in  heaven  and  earth  than  are 
dreamed  of  in  thy  philosophy/ 

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Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

"  He  turned  on  his  heel  and  left  the  room. 

"  To  be  candid,  I  was  unpleasantly  affected  by  the  little 
scene.  I  could  not  for  an  instant  doubt  Lucien's  hon- 
esty,— he  was  so  pale,  so  frightened  almost — so  touching 
in  the  alarm  and  excitement  of  his  soul.  Of  course  the 
only  explanation  that  I  could  see  was  that  he  had  written 
his  novel  in  a  sleep-walking  state. 

"  For  certainly  no  printer  could  set  up  type  from  a  manu- 
script that  did  not  exist, — to  say  nothing  of  printing  it 
and  sending  out  proofs. 

"  Several  days  passed,  but  Lucien  did  not  come  near 
me.  I  went  to  his  place  once  or  twice,  but  the  door  was 
locked.  Had  the  devil  carried  him  off  bodily?  Or  had 
this  strange  and  inexplicable  occurrence  robbed  him  of 
his  sanity,  and  robbed  me  of  his  friendship  and  his  excellent 
whisky? 

"  After  three  useless  attempts  to  find  him  at  home,  and 
after  writing  him  a  letter  which  he  did  not  answer,  I  gave 
up  Lucien  without  any  further  attempt  to  understand  his 
enigmatical  behavior.  A  short  time  after,  I  left  for  my 
home  without  having  seen  or  heard  anything  more  of  him. 

"  Months  passed.  I  remained  at  home,  and  one  evening 
when,  during  the  course  of  a  gay  party,  the  conversation 
came  around  to  the  subject  of  mysticism  and  occult  occur- 
rences, I  dished  up  my  story  of  the  enigmatical  manuscript. 
The  Unknown,  the  Occult,  was  the  rage  just  then,  and  my 
story  was  received  with  great  applause  and  called  forth 
numerous  quotations  as  to  '  more  things  in  heaven  and 
earth.'  I  came  to  think  so  much  of  it  myself  that  I  wrote 
it  out  and  sent  it  to  Professor  Flammarion,  who  was  just 
then  making  a  study  of  the  Unknown,  which  he  preserved 
in  his  later  book  'LTnconnu.' 

"  The  occupying  myself  with  the  story  brought  my  mind 
around  again  to  memories  of  Lucien.  One  day,  I  saw  a 
notice  in  Le  Figaro  to  the  effect  that  his  book,  '  The  Force 
of  the  Wind/  had  appeared  in  a  second  large  edition,  and 
had  aroused  much  attention,  particularly  in  spiritualistic 

266 


Otto  Larssen 

circles.  I  seemed  to  see  him  again  before  me,  with  his 
long  nervous  neck,  which  was  so  expressive.  The  vision 
of  this  neck  rose  up  before  me  whenever  I  drank  the 
same  sort  of  whisky  that  I  had  drunk  so  often  with  him, 
and  the  longing  to  hear  something  more  of  my  lost  friend 
came  over  me.  I  sat  down  one  evening  when  in  a  senti- 
mental mood,  and  wrote  to  him,  asking  him  to  tell  me 
something  of  himself  and  to  send  me  his  book. 

"  A  week  later  I  received  the  little  book  and  the  follow- 
ing letter  which  I  have  here  in  my  pocket.  It  is  somewhat 
crumpled,  for  I  have  read  it  several  times.  But  no  mat- 
ter. I  will  read  it  to  you  now,  if  you  will  pardon  my 
awkward  translating  of  the  French  original. 

"Here  it  is: 

"  DEAR  FRIEND  : 

"  Many  thanks  for  your  letter.  Here  is  the  book.  I 
have  to  thank  you  also  that  you  did  not  lay  my  behavior 
of  your  last  days  in  Paris  up  against  me.  It  must  have 
seemed  strange  to  you.  I  will  try  to  explain  it. 

"  I  have  been  nervous  from  childhood.  The  fact  that 
most  of  my  books  have  treated  of  fantastic  subjects, — 
somewhat  in  the  manner  of  Edgar  Allan  Poe — has  made 
me  more  susceptible  for  all  that  world  which  lies  beyond 
and  about  the  world  of  every-day  life.  I  have  sought 
after, — and  yet  feared — the  mystical;  cool  and  lucid  as  I 
can  be  at  times,  I  have  always  had  an  inclination  for  the 
enigmatical,  the  Unknown. 

"  But  the  first  thing  that  ever  happened  in  my  life  that 
I  could  not  explain  or  understand  was  the  affair  of  the 
manuscript.  You  remember  the  day  I  stood  in  your  room? 
I  must  have  looked  the  picture  of  misery.  The  affair  had 
played  more  havoc  with  my  nerves  than  you  can  very  well 
understand.  Your  mockery  hurt  me,  and  yet  under  all 
I  felt  ashamed  of  my  own  thoughts  concerning  this  foolish 
occurrence.  I  could  not  explain  the  phenomenon,  and  I 
shivered  at  the  things  that  it  suggested  to  me.  In  this  con- 
dition, which  lasted  several  weeks,  I  could  not  bear  to  see 

267 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

you  or  anyone  else,  and  I  was  impolite  enough  even  to 
leave  your  letter  unanswered. 

"  The  book  appeared  and  made  a  hit,  since  that  sort  of 
thing  was  the  center  of  interest  just  then.  But  almost  a 
month  passed  before  I  could  arouse  myself  from  that  con- 
dition of  fear  and — I  had  almost  said,  softening  of  the  brain 
— which  prevented  my  enjoyment  of  my  success. 

"  Then  the  explanation  came.  Thanks  to  this  occurrence 
I  know  now  that  I  shall  never  again  be  in  danger  of  being 
'  haunted/ 

"  And  I  know  now  that  Chance  can  bring  about  stranger 
happenings  than  can  any  fancied  visitations  from  the  spirit 
world.  Here  you  have  the  story  of  this  '  mystic '  occur- 
rence, which  came  near  endangering  my  sanity,  and  which 
turns  out  to  be  a  chance  combination  of  a  gust  of  wind, 
a  sudden  downpour  of  rain,  and  the  strange  elements  in 
the  character  of  our  little  friend  Adolphe  the  printer's  boy. 

"  You  remember  that  funny  little  chap  with  the  crafty 
eye,  his  talent  for  gambling,  and  his  admiration  for  the  girl 
of  '  La  Prunelle  '  ?  A  queer  little  mixture  this  child  who 
has  himself  alone  to  look  to  for  livelihood  and  care,  the 
typical  race  of  the  Paris  streets,  the  modified  gamin  from 
'  Les  Miserables/ 

"  About  a  month  after  the  appearance  of  my  book  I  lay 
on  the  divan  one  day, — your  favorite  place,  you  remem- 
ber?— and  lost  myself  in  idle  reasonings  on  the  safne  old 
subject  that  never  left  my  mind  day  or  night,  when  the 
bell  rang  and  Adolphe  appeared,  to  call  for  the  essay  on 
'  Le  Boulevarde.'  There  was  an  unusually  nervous  gleam 
in  his  eyes  that  day.  I  gave  him  an  anisette  and  tried  to 
find  out  what  his  trouble  was.  I  did  find  it  out,  and  I  found 
out  a  good  deal  more  besides. 

"  Thanks  to  his  good  fortune  as  a  gambler,  Virginie  came 
to  look  upon  him  with  favor.  Pierre  was  quite  out  of  the 
race  and  Adolphe's  affection  was  reciprocated  as  much  as 
his  heart  could  desire.  But  with  his  good  fortune  in  love 
came  all  the  suffering,  all  the  torture,  the  suspicions  that 
tear  the  hearts  of  us  men  when  we  set  our  hopes  upon  a 

268 


Otto  Larssen 

woman's  truth.  Young  as  he  was  he  went  through  them 
all,  and  now  he  was  torturing  himself  with  the  thought  that 
she  did  not  really  love  him  and  was  only  pretending,  while 
she  gave  her  heart  to  another.  Perhaps  he  was  right — 
why  not? 

"  I  talked  to  Adolphe  as  man  to  man,  and  managed  to 
bring  back  a  gleam  of  his  usual  jollity  and  sly  humor.  He 
took  another  glass  of  anisette,  and  said  suddenly : 

"  '  M.  Lucien — I  did  something ' 

"'Did  what?'  I  asked. 

" '  Something  I  should  have  told  you  long  ago — it  was 
wrong,  and  you've  always  been  so  nice  to  me ' 

"  You  remember  the  day,  two  months  ago,  when  we  had 
such  a  sudden  wind  and  rain  storm,  a  regular  cloud-burst  ? 
I  was  down  here  in  this  neighborhood  fetching  manuscripts 
from  M.  Labouchere  and  M.  Laroy.  I  was  to  have  come 
up  here  for  copy  from  you,  too.  But  then — you'll  under- 
stand after  all  I've  been  telling  you, — I  came  around  past 
(  La  Prunelle  '  and  Virginie  stood  in  the  doorway,  and  she'd 
promised  to  go  out  with  me  that  evening.  So  I  ran  up 
to  speak  to  her.  And  then  when  I  went  on  again,  I  saw 
a  sheet  with  your  writing  lying  in  the  street.  You  know 
I  know  all  the  gentlemen's  writing,  whose  copy  I  fetch. 
Then  I  was  frightened.  I  thought  to  myself,  '  The  devil/ 
I  thought,  '  here  I've  lost  M.  Lucien's  manuscript/  I 
couldn't  remember  calling  for  it,  but  I  thought  I  must 
have  done  so  before  I  got  M.  Laroy's.  I  can't  remem- 
ber much  except  Virginie  these  days.  I  took  up  the  sheet 
and  saw  three  others  a  little  further  on.  And  I  saw  a 
lot  more  shining  just  behind  the  railing  of  the  Luxem- 
bourg Garden.  You  know  how  hard  it  rained.  The  water 
held  the  paper  down,  so  the  wind  couldn't  carry  it  any 
further.  I  ran  into  the  Garden  and  picked  up  all  the 
sheets,  thirty-two  of  them.  All  of  them,  except  the  first 
four  I  found  in  the  street,  had  blown  in  behind  the  rail- 
ing. And  I  can  tell  you  I  was  precious  glad  that  I  had 
them  all  together.  I  ran  back  to  the  office,  told  them  I 
had  dropped  the  manuscript  in  the  street,  but  asked  them 

269 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

not  to  say  anything  to  you  about  it.  But  the  sheets  were 
all  there, — you  always  number  them  so  clearly,  and  '  hand- 
some August/  the  compositor,  promised  he  wouldn't  tell 
on  me.  I  knew  if  the  foreman  heard  of  it,  he'd  put  me 
out,  for  he  had  a  grudge  against  me.  So  nobody  knew 
anything  about  it.  But  I  thought  I  ought  to  tell  you, 
'cause  you've  been  so  nice  to  me.  Maybe  you'll  under- 
stand how  one  gets  queer  at  times,  when  a  girl  like  Vir- 
ginie  tells  you  she  likes  you  better  than  Pierre,  and  yet 
you  think  she  might  deceive  you  for  his  sake — that  big, 
stupid  animal —  But  now  I'll  be  going.  Much  obliged 
for  your  kindness,  M.  Lucien,  and  for  the  anisette — ' 
And  he  left  me. 

"  There  you  have  the  explanation,  the  very  simple  and 
natural  explanation  of  the  phenomenon  that  almost  drove 
me  crazy. 

"  The  entire  '  supernatural '  occurrence  was  caused  by  a 
careless  boy's  love  affairs,  by  a  gust  of  southwest  wind,  by 
a  sudden  heavy  rain,  and  by  the  chance  that  I  had  used 
English  ink,  the  kind  that  water  cannot  blur.  All  these 
simple  natural  things  made  me  act  so  foolishly  toward  a 
good  friend,  the  sort  of  friend  I  have  always  known  you 
to  be.  Let  me  hear  from  you,  and  tell  me  what  you  people 
up  North  think  of  my  book.  I  give  you  my  word  that 
the  '  Unknown  Powers  '  shall  never  again  make  me  foolish 
enough  to  risk  losing  your  friendship! 
"  Yours 

"  LUCIEN." 

"  So  this  is  my  story.  Yes,  '  there  are  more  things  in 
heaven  and  earth — '  But  the  workings  of  Chance  are  the 
strangest  of  all.  And  this  whisky  is  really  very  good. 
Here's  to  you." 


270 


Bernhard  Severin  Ingemann 
The  Sealed  Room 

T7OR  many  years  there  stood  in  a  side  street  in  Kiel  an 
unpretentious  old  frame  house  which  had  a  forbid- 
ding, almost  sinister  appearance,  with  its  old-fashioned  bal- 
cony and  its  overhanging  upper  stories.  For  the  last  twenty 
years  the  house  had  been  occupied  by  a  greatly  respected 
widow,  Madame  Wolff,  to  whom  the  dwelling  had  come  by 
inheritance.  She  lived  there  quietly  with  her  one  daughter, 
in  somewhat  straitened  circumstances. 

What  gave  the  house  a  mysterious  notoriety,  augmenting 
the  sinister  quality  in  its  appearance,  was  the  fact  that  one 
of  its  rooms,  a  corner  room  on  the  main  floor,  had  not  been 
opened  for  generations.  The  door  was  firmly  fastened  and 
sealed  with  plaster,  as  well  as  the  window  looking  out  upon 
the  street.  Above  the  door  was  an  old  inscription,  dated 
1603,  which  threatened  sudden  death  and  eternal  damna- 
tion to  any  human  being  who  dared  to  open  the  door  or 
efface  the  inscription.  Neither  door  nor  window  had  been 
opened  in  the  two  hundred  years  that  had  passed  since  the 
inscription  was  put  up.  But  for  a  generation  back  or  more, 
the  partition  wall  and  the  sealed  door  had  been  covered 
with  wall  paper,  and  the  inscription  had  been  almost  for- 
gotten. 

The  room  adjoining  the  sealed  chamber  was  a  large  hall, 
utilized  only  for  rare  important  events.  Such  an  occasion 
arose  with  the  wedding  of  the  only  daughter  of  the  house. 
For  that  evening  the  great  hall,  as  it  was  called,  was  bril- 
liantly decorated  and  illuminated  for  a  ball.  The  building 
had  deep  cellars  and  the  old  floors  were  elastic.  Madame 
Wolff  had  in  vain  endeavored  to  avoid  using  the  great  hall 
at  all,  for  the  foolish  old  legend  of  the  sealed  chamber 

271 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

aroused  a  certain  superstitious  dread  in  her  heart,  and  she 
rarely  if  ever  entered  the  hall  herself.  But  merry  Miss 
Elizabeth,  her  pretty  young  daughter,  was  passionately  fond 
of  dancing,  and  her  mother  had  promised  that  she  should 
have  a  ball  on  her  wedding  day.  Her  betrothed,  Secretary 
Winther,  was  also  a  good  dancer,  and  the  two  young  peo- 
ple combated  the  mother's .  prejudice  against  the  hall  and 
laughed  at  her  fear  of  the  sealed  room.  They  thought  it 
would  be  wiser  to  appear  to  ignore  the  stupid  legend  alto- 
gether, and  thus  to  force  the  world  to  forget  it.  In  spite 
of  secret  misgivings  Madame  Wolff  yielded  to  their  argu- 
ments. And  for  the  first  time  in  many  years  the  merry 
strains  of  dance  music  were  heard  in  the  great  hall  that  lay 
next  the  mysterious  sealed  chamber. 

The  bridal  couple,  as  well  as  the  wedding  guests,  were 
in  the  gayest  mood,  and  the  ball  was  an  undoubted  success. 
The  dancing  was  interrupted  for  an  hour  while  supper  was 
served  in  an  adjoining  room.  After  the  repast  the  guests 
returned  to  the  hall,  and  it  was  several  hours  more  before 
the  last  dance  was  called.  The  season  was  early  autumn 
and  the  weather  still  balmy.  The  windows  had  been  opened 
to  freshen  the  air.  But  the  walls  retained  their  dampness 
and  suddenly  the  dancers  noticed  that  the  old  wall  paper 
which  covered  the  partition  wall  between  the  hall  and  the 
sealed  chamber  had  been  loosened  through  the  jarring  of 
the  building,  and  had  fallen  away  from  the  sealed  door 
with  its  mysterious  inscription. 

The  story  of  the  sealed  chamber  had  been  almost  forgot- 
ten by  most  of  those  present,  forgotten  with  many  other 
old  legends  heard  in  childhood.  The  inscription  thus  sud- 
denly revealed  naturally  aroused  great  interest,  and  there 
was  a  general  curiosity  to  know  what  the  mysterious  closed 
room  might  hide.  Conjectures  flew  from  mouth  to  mouth. 
Some  insisted  that  the  closed  door  must  hide  the  traces  of 
a  hideous  murder,  or  some  other  equally  terrible  crime. 
Others  suggested  that  perhaps  the  room  had  been  used 
as  a  hiding  place  for  garments  and  other  articles  belong- 
ing to  some  person  who  had  died  of  a  pestilence,  and  that 

272 


Bernhard  Sevcrin  Ingemann 

the  room  had  been  sealed  for  fear  of  spreading  the  disease. 
Still  others  thought  that  in  the  sealed  chamber  there  might 
be  found  a  secret  entrance  from  the  cellars,  which  had 
made  the  room  available  as  a  hiding  place  for  robbers  or 
smugglers.  The  guests  had  quite  forgotten  their  dancing 
in  the  interest  awakened  by  the  sight  of  the  mysterious 
door. 

"  For  mercy's  sake,  don't  let's  go  too  near  it!  "  exclaimed 
some  of  the  young  ladies.  But  the  majority  thought  it 
would  be  great  fun  to  see  what  was  hidden  there.  Most 
of  the  men  said  that  they  considered  it  foolish  not  to  have 
opened  the  door  long  ago,  and  examined  the  room.  The 
young  bridegroom  did  not  join  in  this  opinion,  however. 
He  upheld  the  decision  of  his  mother-in-law  not  to  al- 
low any  attempt  to  effect  an  entrance  into  the  room.  He 
knew  that  there  was  a  clause  in  the  title  deeds  to  the  house 
which  made  the  express  stipulation  that  no  owner  should 
ever  permit  the  corner  room  to  be  opened.  There  was  dis- 
cussion among  the  guests  as  to  whether  such  a  clause  in 
a  title  deed  could  be  binding  for  several  hundred  years, 
and  many  doubted  its  validity  at  any  time.  But  most  of 
them  understood  why  Madame  Wolff  did  not  wish  any  in- 
vestigation, even  should  any  of  those  present  have  sufficient 
courage  to  dare  the  curse  and  break  open  the  door. 

"  Nonsense !  What  great  courage  is  necessary  for  that  ?  " 
exclaimed  Lieutenant  Flemming  Wolff,  a  cousin  of  the  bride 
of  the  evening.  This  gentleman  had  a  reputation  that  was 
not  of  the  best.  He  was  known  to  live  mostly  on  debt  and 
pawn  tickets,  and  was  of  a  most  quarrelsome  disposition. 
As  a  duelist  he  was  feared  because  of  his  specialty.  This  was 
the  ability,  and  the  inclination,  through  a  trick  in  the  use 
of  the  foils,  to  disfigure  his  opponent's  face  badly,  without 
at  all  endangering  his  life.  In  this  manner  he  had  already 
sadly  mutilated  several  brave  officers  and  students,  who 
had  had  the  bad  luck  to  stand  up  against  him.  He  him- 
self was  anything  but  pleasant  to  look  upon,  his  natural 
plainness  having  been  rendered  repellent  by  a  life  of  low  de- 
bauchery. He  cherished  a  secret  grudge  against  the  bride- 

273 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

groom  and  bitter  feelings  toward  the  bride,  because  the 
latter  had  so  plainly  shown  her  aversion  for  him  when  he 
had  ventured  to  pay  suit  to  her. 

The  family  had  not  desired  any  open  break  with  this  dis- 
agreeable relative,  and  had  therefore  sent  him  an  invitation 
to  the  wedding.  They  had  taken  it  for  granted  that,  under 
the  circumstances,  he  would  prefer  to  stay  away.  But  he 
had  appeared  at  the  ball,  and,  perhaps  to  conceal  his  resent- 
ment, he  had  been  the  most  indefatigable  dancer  of  the 
evening.  At  supper  he  had  partaken  freely  of  the  strong- 
est wines,  and  was  plainly  snowing  the  effect  of  them  by 
this  time.  His  eyes  rolled  wildly,  and  those  who  knew  him 
took  care  not  to  contradict  him,  or  to  have  anything  to  say 
to  him  at  all. 

With  a  boastful  laugh  he  repeated  his  assertion  that  it 
didn't  take  much  courage  to  open  a  sealed  door,  especially 
when  there  might  be  a  fortune  concealed  behind  it.  In  his 
opinion  it  was  cowardly  to  let  oneself  be  frightened  by  a 
century-old  legend.  He  wouldn't  let  that  bother  him  if  he 
had  influence  enough  in  the  family  to  win  the  daughter 
and  induce  the  mother  to  give  a  ball  in  the  haunted  hall. 
With  this  last  hit  he  hoped  to  arouse  the  young  husband's 
ire.  But  the  latter  merely  shrugged  his  shoulders  and 
turned  away  with  a  smile  of  contempt. 

Lieutenant  Wolff  fired  up  at  this,  and  demanded  to  know 
whether  the  other  intended  to  call  his,  the  lieutenant's, 
courage  into  question  by  his  behavior. 

"  Not  in  the  slightest,  when  it  is  a  matter  of  obtaining  a 
loan,  or  of  mutilating  an  adversary  with  a  trick  at  fencing," 
answered  the  bridegroom  angrily,  taking  care,  however, 
that  neither  the  bride  nor  any  of  the  other  ladies  should 
hear  his  words.  Then  he  continued  in  a  whisper :  "  But 
I  don't  believe  you'd  have  the  courage  to  remain  here  alone 
and  in  darkness,  before  this  closed  door,  for  a  single  hour. 
If  you  wish  to  challenge  me  for  this  doubt,  I  am  at  your 
disposal  as  soon  as  you  have  proven  me  in  the  wrong. 
But  I  choose  the  weapons." 

"  They  must  be  chosen  by  lot,  sir  cousin,"  replied  the  lieu- 
274 


Bernhard  Severin  Ingcmann 

tenant,  his  cheek  pale  and  his  jaws  set.  "  I  will  expect  *-ou 
to  breakfast  to-morrow  morning  at  eight  o'clock." 

The  bridegroom  nodded,  and  took  the  other's  cold  dry 
hand  for  an  instant.  The  men  who  had  overheard  the  short 
conversation  looked  upon  it  as  a  meaningless  incident,  the 
memory  of  which  would  disappear  from  the  lieutenant's 
brain  with  the  vanishing  wine  fumes. 

The  ball  was  now  over.  The  bride  left  the  hall  with  her 
husband  and  several  of  the  guests  who  were  to  accompany 
the  young  couple  to  their  new  home.  The  lights  went  out 
in  the  old  house.  The  door  of  the  dancing  hall  had  been 
locked  from  the  outside.  Lieutenant  Flemming  Wolff  re- 
mained alone  in  the  room,  having  hidden  himself  in  a  dark 
corner  where  he  had  not  been  seen  by  the  servants,  who  had 
extinguished  the  lights  and  locked  the  door.  The  night 
watchman  had  just  called  out  two  o'clock  when  the  soli- 
tary guest  found  himself,  still  giddy  from  the  heavy  wine, 
alone  in  the  great  dark  hall  in  front  of  the  mysterious  door. 

The  windows  were  at  only  a  slight  elevation  from  the 
street,  and  a  spring  would  take  him  to  safety  should  his 
desire  to  remain  there,  or  to  solve  the  mystery  of  the  sealed 
room,  vanish.  But  next  morning  all  the  windows  in  the 
great  hall  were  found  closed,  just  as  the  servants  had  left 
them  the  night  before.  The  night  watchman  reported  that 
he  had  heard  a  hollow-sounding  crash  in  that  unoccupied 
part  of  the  house  during  the  night.  But  that  was  nothing 
unusual,  as  there  was  a  general  belief  in  the  neighborhood 
that  the  house  was  haunted. 

For  hollow  noises  were  often  heard  there,  and  sounds  as 
of  money  falling  on  the  floor,  and  rattling  and  clinking 
as  of  a  factory  machine.  Enlightened  people,  it  is  true, 
explained  these  sounds  as  echoes  of  the  stamping  and  other 
natural  noises  from  a  large  stable  just  behind  the  old 
house.  But  in  spite  of  these  explanations  and  their  eminent 
feasibility,  the  dread  of  the  unoccupied  portion  of  the  house 
was  so  great  that  not  even  the  most  reckless  man  servant 
could  be  persuaded  to  enter  it  alone  after  nightfall. 

Next  morning  at  eight  o'clock  Winther  appeared  at  his 
275 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

mother-in-law's  door,  saying  that  he  had  forgotten  some- 
thing of  importance  in  the  great  hall  the  night  before. 
Madame  Wolff  had  not  yet  arisen,  but  the  maid  who  let 
in  the  early  visitor  noticed  with  surprise  that  he  had  a 
large  pistol  sticking  out  of  one  of  his  pockets. 

Winther  had  been  to  his  cousin's  apartment  and  found  it 
locked.  He  now  entered  the  great  hall,  and  at  first  glance 
thought  it  empty.  To  his  alarm  and  astonishment,  how- 
ever, he  saw  that  the  sealed  door  had  been  broken  open. 
He  approached  it  with  anxiety,  and  found  his  wife's  cousin, 
.the  doughty  duelist,  lying  pale  and  lifeless  on  the  threshold. 
Beside  him  lay  a  large  stone  which  had  struck  his  head  in 
falling  and  must  have  killed  him  at  once.  Over  the  door 
was  a  hole  in  the  wall,  just  the  size  of  the  stone.  The 
latter  had  evidently  rested  on  the  upper  edge  of  the  door, 
and  must  certainly  have  fallen  on  its  opening.  The  un- 
fortunate man  lay  half  in  the  mysterious  chamber  and  half 
in  the  hall,  just  as  he  must  have  fallen  when  the  stone 
struck  him. 

The  formal  investigation  of  the  closed  room  was  made  in 
the  presence  of  the  police  authorities.  It  contained  noth- 
ing but  a  small  safe  which  was  built  into  the  wall.  When 
the  safe  had  been  opened  by  force,  an  inner  chamber, 
which  had  to  be  broken  open  by  itself,  was  found  to  con- 
tain a  number  of  rolls  of  gold  pieces,  many  jewels  and 
numerous  notes  and  I.  O.  U.'s.  The  treasure  was  covered 
by  an  old  document.  From  this  latter  it  was  learned  that 
the  owner  of  the  house  two  hundred  years  ago  had  been 
a  silk  weaver  by  the  name  of  Flemming  Ambrosius  Wolff. 
He  was  said  to  have  lent  money  on  security  for  many  years, 
but  had  died  apparently  a  poor  man,  because  he  had  so 
carefully  hidden  his  riches  that  little  of  it  was  found  after 
'his  death. 

With  a  niggardliness  that  bordered  on  madness,  he  had 
•believed  that  he  could  hide  his  treasure  forever  by  shutting 
<it  up  in  the  sealed  room.  The  curse  over  the  door  was  to 
frighten  away  any  venturesome  mortal,  and  further  secu- 
rity was  given  by  the  clause  in  the  title  deed. 

2/6 


Bernhard  Severin  Ingetnann 

The  universally  disliked  Lieutenant  Flemming  Wolff 
must  have  had  many  characteristics  in  common  with  this 
disagreeable  old  ancestor,  to  whose  treasure  he  would  have- 
fallen  heir  had  he  not  lost  his  life  in  the  discovering  of  it. 
The  old  miser  had  not  hidden  his  wealth  for  all  eternity.,, 
as  he  had  hoped,  but  had  only  brought  about  the  inheriting 
of  it  by  Madame  Wolff,  the  owner  of  the  house,  and  the 
next  of  kin.  The  first  use  to  which  this  lady  put  the 
money  was  to  tear  down  the  uncanny  old  building  and  to 
erect  in  its  stead  a  beautiful  new  home  for  her  daughter 
and  son-in-law. 


277 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 
The  Rector  of  Veilbye 

extracts  from  the  diary  of  Erik  Sorensen,  Dis- 
trict Judge,  followed  by  two  written  statements  by  the 
rector  of  Aalso,  give  a  complete  picture  of  the  terrible 
events  that  took  place  in  the  parish  of  Veilbye  during 
Judge  Sorensen's  first  year  of  office.  Should  anyone  be 
inclined  to  doubt  the  authenticity  of  these  documents  let 
him  at  least  have  no  doubt  about  the  story,  which  is,  alas! 
only  too  sadly  true.  The  memory  of  these  events  is  still 
fresh  in  the  district,  and  the  events  themselves  have  been 
the  direct  cause  of  a  change  in  the  method  of  criminal 
trials.  A  suspected  murderer  is  now  tried  through  all  the 
courts  before  his  conviction  can  be  determined.  Readers 
versed  in  the  history  of  law  will  doubtless  know  by  this 
iduring  what  epoch  the  story  is  laid. 


I 

[From  the  Diary  of  District  Judge  Erik  Sorensen.} 

Now  am  I,  unworthy  one,  by  the  grace  of  God  made 
judge  over  this  district.  May  the  Great  Judge  above  give 
me  wisdom  and  uprightness  that  I  may  fulfill  my  diffi- 
cult task  in  all  humility!  From  the  Lord  alone  cometh 
judgment. 

It  is  not  good  that  man  should  live  alone.  Now  that 
I  am  able  to  support  a  wife  I  will  look  about  me  for  a  help- 
meet. I  hear  much  good  said  about  the  daughter  of  the 
Rector  of  Veilbye.  Since  her  mother's  death  she  has  been 
a  wise  and  economical  keeper  of  her  father's  house.  And 

278 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

as  she  and  her  brother  the  student  are  the  only  children, 
she  will  inherit  a  tidy  sum  when  the  old  man  dies. 

Morten  Bruus  of  Ingvorstrup  was  here  to-day  and 
wanted  to  make  me  a  present  of  a  fat  calf.  But  I  answered 
him  in  the  words  of  Moses,  "  Cursed  be  he  who  taketh 
gifts."  He  is  of  a  very  quarrelsome  nature,  a  sharp  bar- 
gainer, and  a  boastful  talker.  I  do  not  want  to  have  any 
dealings  with  him,  except  through  my  office  as  judge. 

I  have  prayed  to  God  for  wisdom  and  I  have  consulted 
with  my  own  heart,  and  I  believe  that  Mistress  Mette  Quist 
is  the  only  woman  with  whom  I  could  live  and  die.  But 
I  will  watch  her  for  a  time  in  secret.  Beauty  is  deceptive 
and  charm  is  a  dangerous  thing.  But  I  must  say  that  she  is 
the  most  beautiful  woman  I  have  yet  seen. 

I  think  that  Morten  Bruus  a  very  disagreeable  person — 
I  scarcely  know  why  myself.  But  whenever  I  see  him 
something  comes  over  me,  something  that  is  like  the  mem- 
ory of  an  evil  dream.  And  yet  it  is  so  vague  and  so  faint, 
that  I  could  not  say  whether  I  had  really  ever  seen  the 
man  in  my  dreams  or  not.  It  may  be  a  sort  of  presenti- 
ment of  evil ;  who  knows  ? 

He  was  here  again  and  offered  me  a  pair  of  horses — 
beautiful  animals — at  a  ridiculously  low  price.  It  looked 
queer  to  me.  I  know  that  he  paid  seventy  thalers  for 
them,  and  he  wanted  to  let  me  have  them  for  the  same 
price.  They  are  at  the  least  worth  one  hundred  thalers, 
if  not  more.  Was  it  intended  for  a  bribe  ?  He  may  have 
another  lawsuit  pending.  I  do  not  want  his  horses. 

I  paid  a  visit  to  the  Rector  of  Veilbye  to-day.  He  is 
a  fine,  God-fearing  man,  but  somewhat  quick-tempered  and 
dictatorial.  And  he  is  close  with  his  money,  too,  as  I  could 
see.  Just  as  I  arrived  a  peasant  was  with  him  trying  to 
be  let  off  the  payment  of  part  of  his  tithe.  The  man  is 
surely  a  rogue,  for  the  sum  is  not  large.  But  the  rector 
talked  to  him  as  I  wouldn't  have  talked  to  a  dog,  and  the 
more,  he  talked  the  more  violent  he  became. 

279 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

Well,  we  all  have  our  faults.  The  rector  meant  well  in 
spite  of  his  violence,  for  later  on  he  told  his  daughter  to 
give  the  man  a  sandwich  and  a  good  glass  of  beer. 
She  is  certainly  a  charming  and  sensible  girl.  She  greeted 
me  in  a  modest  and  friendly  manner,  and  my  heart 
beat  so  that  I  could  scarcely  say  a  word  in  reply.  My 
head  farm  hand  served  in  the  rectory  three  years.  I  will 
question  him, — one  often  hears  a  straight  and  true  state- 
ment from  servants. 

A  surprise !  My  farm  hand  Rasmus  tells  me  that  Morten 
Bruus  came  a-wooing  to  the  rectory  at  Veilbye  some  years 
back,  but  was  sent  away  with  a  refusal.  The  rector  seemed 
to  be  pleased  with  him,  for  the  man  is  rich.  But  his 
daughter  would  not  hear  to  it  at  all.  Pastor  Soren  may 
have  tried  hard  to  persuade  her  to  consent  at  first.  But 
when  he  saw  how  much  she  disliked  the  man  he  let  her 
do  as  she  would.  It  was  not  pride  on  her  part,  Rasmus 
said,  for  she  is  as  simple  and  modest  as  she  is  good  and 
beautiful.  And  she  knows  that  her  own  father  is  peasant- 
born  as  well  as  Bruus. 

Now  I  know  what  the  Ingvorstrup  horses  were  intended 
for.  They  were  to  blind  the  judge  and  to  lead  him  aside 
from  the  narrow  path  of  righteousness.  The  rich  Morten 
Bruus  covets  poor  Ole  Anderson's  peat  moor  and  pasture 
land.  It  would  have  been  a  good  bargain  for  Morten 
even  at  seventy  thalers.  But  no  indeed,  my  good  fellow, 
you  don't  know  Erik  Sorensen ! 

Rector  Soren  Quist  of  Veilbye  came  to  see  me  this 
morning.  He  has  a  new  coachman,  Niels  Bruus,  brother 
to  the  owner  of  Ingvorstrup.  Neils  is  lazy  and  imperti- 
nent. The  rector  wanted  him  arrested,  but  he  had  no  wit- 
nesses to  back  up  his  complaint.  I  advised  him  to  get  rid 
of  the  man  somehow,  or  else  to  get  along  with  him  the 
best  he  could  until  the  latter's  time  was  up.  The  rector 
was  somewhat  hasty  at  first,  but  later  on  he  listened  calmly 
and  thanked  me  for  my  good  advice.  He  is  inclined  to  be 

280 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

violent  at  times,  but  can  always  be  brought  to  listen  to 
reason.    We  parted  good  friends. 


I  spent  a  charming  day  in  Veilbye  yesterday.  The  rec- 
tor was  not  at  home,  but  Mistress  Mette  received  me  with 
great  friendliness.  She  sat  by  the  door  spinning  when 
I  arrived,  and  it  seemed  to  me  that  she  blushed.  It  was 
hardly  polite  for  me  to  wait  so  long  before  speaking. 
When  I  sit  in  judgment  I  never  lack  for  words,  but  in 
the  presence  of  this  innocent  maiden  I  am  as  stupid  as 
the  veriest  simpleton  of  a  chicken  thief.  But  I  finally 
found  my  voice  and  the  time  passed  quickly  until  the  rec- 
tor's return.  Then  Mistress  Mette  left  us  and  did  not 
return  until  she  brought  in  our  supper. 

Just  as  she  stepped  through  the  doorway  the  rector  was 
saying  to  me,  "  Isn't  it  about  time  that  you  should  think 
of  entering  into  the  holy  estate  of  matrimony  ?  "  (We  had 
just  been  speaking  of  a  recent  very  fine  wedding  in  the 
neighborhood.)  Mistress  Mette  heard  the  words  and 
flushed  a  deep  red.  Her  father  laughed  and  said  to  her, 
"  I  can  see,  my  dear  daughter,  that  you  have  been  stand- 
ing before  the  fire." 

I  shall  take  the  good  man's  advice  and  will  very  soon 
try  my  fate  with  her.  For  I  think  I  may  take  the  rector's 
words  to  be  a  secret  hint  that  he  would  not  object  to  me 
as  a  son-in-law.  And  the  daughter?  Was  her  blush  a 
favorable  sign? 

Poor  Ole  Anderson  keeps  his  peat  moor  and  his  pasture 
land,  but  rich  Morten  Bruus  is  angry  at  me  because  of  it. 
When  he  heard  the  decision  he  closed  his  eyes  and  set 
his  lips  tight,  and  his  face  was  as  pale  as  a  whitewashed 
wall.  But  he  controlled  himself  and  as  he  went  out  he 
called  back  to  his  adversary,  "  Wish  you  joy  of  the  bar- 
gain, Ole  Anderson.  The  peat  bog  won't  beggar  me,  and 
the  cattle  at  Ingvorstrup  have  all  the  hay  they  can  eat."  I 
could  hear  his  loud  laughter  outside  and  the  cracking  of 

281 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

his  whip.    It  is  not  easy  to  have  to  sit  in  judgment.    Every 
decision  makes  but  one  enemy  the  more. 

Yesterday  was  the  happiest  day  of  my  life.  We  cele- 
brated our  betrothal  in  the  Rectory  of  Veilbye.  My  future 
father-in-law  spoke  to  the  text,  "  I  gave  my  handmaid  into 
thy  bosom  "  (Genesis  xvi,  5).  His  words  touched  my  heart. 
I  had  not  believed  that  this  serious  and  sometimes  brusque 
man  could  talk  so  sweetly.  When  the  solemnity  was  over, 
I  received  the  first  kiss  from  my  sweet  betrothed,  and  the 
assurance  of  her  great  love  for  me. 

At  supper  and  later  on  we  were  very  merry.  Many  of 
the  dead  mother's  kin  were  present.  The  rector's  family 
were  too  far  away.  After  supper  we  danced  until  day- 
break and  there  was  no  expense  spared  in  the  food  and 
wine.  My  future  father-in-law  was  the  strongest  man 
present,  and  could  easily  drink  all  the  others  under  the 
table.  The  wedding  is  to  take  place  in  six  weeks.  God 
grant  us  rich  blessings. 

It  is  not  good  that  my  future  father-in-law  should  have 
this  Niels  Bruus  in  his  service.  He  is  a  defiant  fellow,  a 
worthy  brother  of  him  of  Ingvorstrup.  If  it  were  I,  he 
should  have  his  wages  and  be  turned  off,  the  sooner  the 
better.  But  the  good  rector  is  stubborn  and  insists  that 
Niels  shall  serve  out  his  time.  The  other  day  he  gave 
the  fellow  a  box  on  the  ear,  at  which  Niels  cried  out  that 
he  would  make  him  pay  for  it.  The  rector  told  me  of  this 
himself,  for  no  one  else  had  been  present.  I  talked  to 
Niels,  but  he  would  scarcely  answer  me.  I  fear  he  has  a 
stubborn  and  evil  nature.  My  sweet  betrothed  also  en- 
treats her  father  to  send  the  fellow  away,  but  the  rec- 
tor will  not  listen  to  reason.  I  do  not  know  what  the 
old  man  will  do  when  his  daughter  leaves  his  home  for 
mine.  She  saves  him  much  worry  and  knows  how  to 
make  all  things  smooth  and  easy.  She  will  be  a  sweet 
wife  for  me. 

282 


Stcen  Stccnscn  Blichcr 

As  I  thought,  it  turned  out  badly.  But  there  is  one 
good  thing  about  it,  Niels  has  now  run  off  of  himself.  The 
rector  is  greatly  angered,  but  I  rejoice  in  secret  that  he 
is  rid  of  that  dangerous  man.  Bruus  will  probably  seek 
retaliation,  but  we  have  law  and  justice  in  the  land  to 
order  such  matters. 

This  was  the  way  of  it :  The  rector  had  ordered  Niels 
to  dig  up  a  bit  of  soil  in  the  garden.  After  a  time  when 
he  went  out  himself  to  look  at  the  work,  he  found  Niels 
leaning  on  his  spade  eating  nuts.  He  had  not  even  be- 
gun to  dig.  The  rector  scolded  him,  but  the  fellow  an- 
swered that  he  had  not  taken  service  as  a  gardener.  He 
received  a  good  box  on  the  ear  for  that.  At  this  he 
threw  away  his  spade  and  swore  valiantly  at  his  master. 
The  old  rector  lost  his  temper  entirely,  seized  the  spade 
and  struck  at  the  man  several  times.  He  should  not  have 
done  this,  for  a  spade  is  a  dangerous  weapon,  especially 
in  the  hands  of  a  man  as  strong  as  is  the  pastor  in  spite 
of  his  years.  Niels  fell  to  the  ground  as  if  dead.  But  when 
the  pastor  bent  over  him  in  alarm,  he  sprang  up  suddenly, 
jumped  the  hedge  and  ran  away  to  the  woods. 

This  is  the  story  of  the  unfortunate  affair  as  my  father- 
in-law  tells  it  to  me.  My  beloved  Mette  is  much  worried 
about  it.  She  fears  the  man  may  do  harm  to  the  cattle,  or 
set  fire  to  the  house,  or  in  some  such  way  take  his  re- 
venge. But  I  tell  her  there  is  little  fear  of  that. 

Three  weeks  more  and  my  beloved  leaves  her  father's 
house  for  mine.  She  has  been  here  and  has  gone  over  the 
house  and  the  farm.  She  is  much  pleased  with  everything 
and  praxes  our  orderliness.  She  is  an  angel,  and  all  who 
know  her  say  that  I  am  indeed  a  fortunate  man.  To  God 
be  the  praise ! 

Strange,  where  that  fellow  Niels  went  to!  Could  he 
have  left  the  country  altogether?  It  is  an  unpleasant  af- 
fair in  any  case,  and  there  are  murmurings  and  secret  gos- 
sip among  the  peasants.  The  talk  has  doubtless  started 

283 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

in  Ingvorstrup.  It  would  not  be  well  to  have  the  rector 
hear  it.  He  had  better  have  taken  my  advice,  but  it  isi 
not  my  province  to  school  a  servant  of  God,  and  a  man 
so  much  older  than  I.  The  idle  gossip  may  blow  over 
ere  long.  I  will  go  to  Veilbye  to-morrow  and  find  out 
if  he  has  heard  anything. 

The  bracelet  the  goldsmith  has  made  for  me  is  very 
beautiful.  I  am  sure  it  will  please  my  sweet  Mette. 

My  honored  father-in-law  is  much  distressed  and  down- 
hearted. Malicious  tongues  have  repeated  to  him  the 
stupid  gossip  that  is  going  about  in  the  district.  Morten 
Bruus  is  reported  to  have  said  that  "  he  would  force  the 
rector  to  bring  back  his  brother,  if  he  had  to  dig  him  out 
of  the  earth."  The  fellow  may  be  in  hiding  somewhere, 
possibly  at  Ingvorstrup.  He  has  certainly  disappeared 
completely,  and  no  one  seems  to  know  where  he  is.  My 
poor  betrothed  is  much  grieved  and  worried.  She  is 
alarmed  by  bad  dreams  and  by  presentiments  of  evil  to 
come. 

God  have  mercy  on  us  all !  I  am  so  overcome  by  shock 
and  horror  that  I  can  scarcely  hold  the  pen.  It  has  all 
come  in  one  terrible  moment,  like  a  clap  of  thunder.  I 
take  no  account  of  time,  night  and  morning  are  the  same 
to  me  and  the  day  is  but  a  sudden  flash  of  lightning  'de- 
stroying the  proud  castle  of  my  hopes  and  desires.  A 
venerable  man  of  God — the  father  of  my  betrothed — is 
in  prison!  And  as  a  suspected  murderer!  There  is  still 
hope  that  he  may  be  innocent.  But  this  hope  is  but  as 
a  straw  to  a  drowning  man.  A  terrible  suspicion  rests 
upon  him —  And  I,  unhappy  man  that  I  am,  must  be  his 
judge.  And  his  daughter  is  my  betrothed  bride !  May  the 
Saviour  have  pity  on  us ! 

It  was  yesterday  that  this  horrible  thing  came.  About 
half  an  hour  before  sunrise  Morten  Bruus  came  to  my 
house  and  had  with  him  the  cotter  Jens  Larsen  of  Veilbye, 

284 


Stccn  Stcensen  Blichcr 

and  the  widow  and  daughter  of  the  shepherd  of  that  parish. 
Morten  Bruus  said  to  me  that  he  had  the  Rector  of  Veilbye 
under  suspicion  of  having  killed  his  brother  Niels.  I  an- 
swered that  I  had  heard  some  such  talk  but  had  regarded 
it  as  idle  and  malicious  gossip,  for  the  rector  himself  had 
assured  me  that  the  fellow  had  run  away.  "  If  that  was 
so,"  said  Morten,  "  if  Niels  had  really  intended  to  run 
away,  he  would  surely  at  first  come  to  me  to  tell  me  of 
it.  But  it  is  not  so,  as  these  good  people  can  prove  to 
you,  and  I  demand  that  you  shall  hear  them  as  an  officer 
of  the  law." 

"  Think  well  of  what  you  are  doing,"  I  said.  "  Think  it 
over  well,  Morten  Bruus,  and  you,  my  good  people.  You 
are  bringing  a  terrible  accusation  against  a  respected  and 
unspotted  priest  and  man  of  God.  If  you  can  prove  noth- 
ing, as  I  strongly  suspect,  your  accusations  may  cost  you 
dear." 

"  Priest  or  no  priest,"  cried  Bruus,  "  it  is  written,  '  thou 
shalt  not  kill! '  And  also  is  it  written,  that  the  authorities 
bear  the  sword  of  justice  for  all  men.  We  have  law  and 
order  in  the  land,  and  the  murderer  shall  not  escape  his 
punishment,  even  if  he  have  the  district  judge  for  a  son- 
in-law." 

I  pretended  not  to  notice  his  thrust  and  began,  "  It  shall 
be  as  you  say.  Kirsten  Mads'  daughter,  what  is  it  that 
you  know  of  this  matter  in  which  Morten  Bruus  accuses 
your  rector?  Tell  the  truth,  and  the  truth  only,  as  you 
would  tell  it  before  the  judgment  seat  of  the  Almighty. 
The  law  will  demand  from  you  that  you  shall  later  repeat 
your  testimony  under  oath." 

The  woman  told  the  following  story:  The  day  on  which 
Niels  Bruus  was  said  to  have  run  away  from  the  rectory, 
she  and  her  daughter  were  passing  along  the  road  near 
the  rectory  garden  a  little  after  the  noon  hour.  She  heard 
some  one  calling  and  saw  that  it  was  Niels  Bruus  looking 
out  through  the  garden  hedge.  He  asked  the  daughter 
if  she  did  not  want  some  nuts  and  told  the  women  that 
the  rector  had  ordered  him  to  dig  in  the  garden,  but  that 

285 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

he  did  not  take  the  command  very  seriously  and  would 
much  rather  eat  nuts.  At  that  moment  they  heard  a  door 
open  in  the  house  and  Niels  said,  "  Now  I'm  in  for  a 
scolding."  He  dropped  back  behind  the  hedge  and  the 
women  heard  a  quarrel  in  the  garden.  They  could  hear 
the  words  distinctly  but  they  could  see  nothing,  as  the 
hedge  was  too  high.  They  heard  the  rector  cry,  "  I'll 
punish  you,  you  dog.  I'll  strike  you  dead  at  my  feet !  " 
Then  they  heard  several  sounding  slaps,  and  they  heard 
Niels  curse  back  at  the  rector  and  call  him  evil  names. 
tThe  rector  did  not  answer  this,  but  the  women  heard  two 
dull  blows  and  saw  the  head  of  a  spade  and  part  of  the 
handle  rise  and  fall  twice  over  the  hedge.  Then  it  was 
very  quiet  in  the  garden,  and  the  widow  and  her  daughter 
were  frightened  and  hurried  on  to  their  cattle  in  the  field. 
The  daughter  gave  the  same  testimony,  word  for  word. 
I  asked  them  if  they  had  not  seen  Niels  Bruus  coming 
out  of  the  garden.  But  they  said  they  had  not,  although 
they  had  turned  back  several  times  to  look. 

This  accorded  perfectly  with  what  the  rector  had  told 
me.  It  was  not  strange  that  the  women  had  not  seen  the 
man  run  out  of  the  garden,  for  he  had  gone  toward  the 
wood  which  is  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  garden  from 
the  highroad.  I  told  Morten  Bruus  that  this  testimony  was 
no  proof  of  the  supposed  murder,  especially  as  the  rector 
himself  had  narrated  the  entire  occurrence  to  me  exactly 
as  the  women  had  described  it.  But  he  smiled  bitterly  and 
asked  me  to  examine  the  third  witness,  which  I  proceeded 
to  do. 

Jens  Larsen  testified  that  he  was  returning  late  one 
evening  from  Tolstrup  (as  he  remembered,  it  was  not  the 
evening  of  Niels  Bruus's  disappearance,  but  the  evening  of 
the  following  day),  and  was  passing  the  rectory  garden  on 
the  easterly  side  by  the  usual  footpath.  From  the  garden 
he  heard  a  noise  as  of  some  one  digging  in  the  earth. 
He  was  frightened  at  first  for  it  was  very  late,  but  the 
moon  shone  brightly  and  he  thought  he  would  see  who 
it  was  that  was  at  work  in  the  garden  at  that  hour.  He 

286 


Steen  Steensen  Blither 

put  off  his  wooden  shoes  and  pushed  aside  the  twigs  of 
the  hedge  until  he  had  made  a  peep  hole.  In  the  garden 
he  saw  the  rector  in  his  usual  house  coat,  a  white  woolen 
nightcap  on  his  head.  He  was  busily  smoothing  down 
the  earth  with  the  flat  of  his  spade.  There  was  nothing 
else  to  be  seen.  Just  then  the  rector  had  started  and 
partly  turned  toward  the  hedge,  and  the  witness,  fearing 
he  might  be  discovered,  slipped  down  and  ran  home  hastily. 

Although  I  was  rather  surprised  that  the  rector  should 
be  working  in  his  garden  at  so  late  an  hour,  I  still  saw 
nothing  in  this  statement  that  could  arouse  suspicion  of 
murder.  I  gave  the  complainant  a  solemn  warning  and 
advised  him  not  only  to  let  fall  his  accusation,  but  to  put 
an  end  to  the  talk  in  the  parish.  He  replied,  "  Not  until 
I  see  what  it  is  that  the  rector  buried  in  his  garden." 

"  That  will  be  too  late,"  I  said.  "  You  are  playing  a 
dangerous  game.  Dangerous  to  your  own  honor  and  wel- 
fare. 

"  I  owe  it  to  my  brother,"  he  replied,  "  and  I  demand 
that  the  authorities  shall  not  refuse  me  assistance." 

My  office  compelled  me  to  accede  to  his  demands.  Ac- 
companied by  the  accuser  and  his  witnesses  I  took  my 
way  to  Veilbye.  My  heart  was  very  heavy,  not  so  much 
because  of  any  fear  that  we  might  find  the  missing  man 
buried  in  the  garden,  but  because  of  the  surprise  and  dis- 
tress I  must  cause  the  rector  and  my  beloved.  As  we 
went  on  our  way  I  thought  over  how  severely  the  law 
would  allow  me  to  punish  the  calumniators.  But  alas, 
Merciful  Heavens !  What  a  terrible  discovery  was  in  store 
for  me ! 

I  had  wished  to  have  a  moment  alone  with  the  rector 
to  prepare  him  for  what  was  coming.  But  as  I  drove 
through  the  gate  Morten  Bruus  spurred  his  horse  past  me 
and  galloped  up  to  the  very  door  of  the  house  just  as  the 
rector  opened  it.  Bruus  cried  out  in  his  very  face,  "  People 
say  that  you  have  killed  my  brother  and  buried  him  in  your 
garden.  I  am  come  with  the  district  judge  to  seek  for 
him." 

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Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

The  poor  rector  was  so  shocked  and  astounded  that  he 
could  not  find  a  word  to  answer.  I  sprang  from  my 
wagon  and  addressed  him :  "  You  have  now  heard  the  ac- 
cusation. I  am  forced  by  my  office  to  fulfill  this  man's  de- 
mands. But  your  own  honor  demands  that  the  truth  shall 
be  known  and  the  mouth  of  slander  silenced." 

"  It  is  hard  enough,"  began  the  rector  finally,  "  for  a 
man  in  my  position  to  have  to  clear  himself  from  such  a 
suspicion.  But  come  with  me.  My  garden  and  my  entire 
house  are  open  to  you." 

We  went  through  the  house  to  the  garden.  On  the  way 
we  met  my  betrothed,  who  was  startled  at  seeing  Bruus. 
I  managed  to  whisper  hastily  to  her,  "  Do  not  be  alarmed, 
dear  heart.  Your  enemies  are  going  to  their  own  de- 
struction." Morten  Bruus  led  the  way  to  the  eastern  side 
of  the  garden  near  the  hedge.  We  others  followed  with  the 
rector's  farm  hands,  whom  he  himself  had  ordered  to  join 
us  with  spades. 

The  accuser  stood  and  looked  about  him  until  we  ap- 
proached. Then  he  pointed  to  one  spot.  "  This  looks 
as  if  the  earth  had  been  disturbed  lately.  Let  us  begin 
here." 

"  Go  to  work  at  once/'  commanded  the  rector  angrily. 

The  men  set  to  work,  but  they  were  not  eager  enough 
to  suit  Bruus,  who  seized  a  spade  himself  to  fire  them  on. 
A  few  strokes  only  sufficed  to  show  that  the  firm  earth-  of 
this  particular  spot  had  not  been  touched  for  many  years. 
We  all  rejoiced — except  Bruus — and  the  rector  was  very 
happy.  He  triumphed  openly  over  his  accuser,  and 
laughed  at  him,  "  Can't  you  find  anything,  you  libeler?  " 

Bruus  did  not  answer.  He  pondered  for  a  few  moments, 
then  called  out,  "Jens  Larsen,  where  was  it  you  saw  the 
rector  digging?" 

Jens  Larsen  had  been  standing  to  one  side  with  his 
hands  folded,  watching  the  work.  At  Bruus's  words  he 
aroused  himself  as  if  from  a  dream,  looked  about  him  and 
pointed  to  a  corner  of  the  garden  several  yards  from  where 
we  stood.  "  I  think  it  was  over  there." 

288 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

"  What's  that,  Jens !  "  cried  the  rector  angrily.  "  When 
did  I  dig  here?" 

Paying  no  heed  to  this,  Morten  Bruus  called  the  men  to 
the  corner  in  question.  The  earth  here  was  covered  by] 
some  withered  cabbage  stalks,  broken  twigs,  and  other 
brush  which  he  pushed  aside  hurriedly.  The  work  began, 
anew. 

I  stood  by  the  rector  talking  calmly  with  him  about  the 
punishment  we  could  mete  out  to  the  dastardly  accuser, 
when  one  of  the  men  suddenly  cried  out  with  an  oath.  We 
looked  toward  them ;  there  lay  a  hat  half  buried  in  the  loose 
earth.  "  We  have  found  him,"  cried  Bruus.  "  That  is 
Niels's  hat;  I  would  know  it  anywhere." 

My  blood  seemed  turned  to  ice.  All  my  hopes  dashed 
to  the  ground.  "Dig !  Dig ! "  cried  the  bloodthirsty  ac- 
accuser,  working  himself  with  all  his  might.  I  looked  at  the 
rector.  He  was  ghastly  pale,  staring  with  wide-open  eyes 
at  the  horrible  spot. 

Another  shout !  A  hand  was  stretched  up  through  the 
earth  as  if  to  greet  the  workers.  "  See  there !  "  screamed 
Bruus.  "  He  is  holding  out  his  hand  to  me.  Wait  a  little, 
Brother  Niels !  You  will  soon  be  avenged !  " 

The  entire  corpse  was  soon  uncovered.  It  was  the  miss- 
ing man.  His  face  was  not  recognizable,  as  decomposition 
had  begun,  and  the  nose  was  broken  and  laid  flat  by  a 
blow.  But  all  the  garments,  even  to  the  shirt  with  his 
name  woven  into  it,  were  known  to  those  who  stood  there. 
In  one  ear  was  a  leaden  ring,  which,  as  we  all  knew,  Niels 
Bruus  had  worn  for  many  years. 

"  Now,  priest,"  cried  Morten  Bruus,  "  come  and  lay  your 
hand  on  this  dead  man  if  you  dare  to ! " 

"  Almighty  God ! "  signed  the  rector,  looking  up  to 
heaven,  "  Thou  art  my  witness  that  I  am  innocent.  I 
struck  him,  that  I  confess,  and  I  am  bitterly  sorry  for  it. 
But  he  ran  away.  God  Almighty  alone  knows  who  buried 
him  here." 

"  Jens  Larsen  knows  also,"  cried  Bruus,  "  and  I  may  find 
more  witnesses.  Judge !  You  will  come  with  me  to  ex- 

289 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

amine  his  servants.  But  first  of  all  I  demand  that  you  shall 
arrest  this  wolf  in  sheep's  clothing." 

Merciful  God,  how  could  I  doubt  any  longer?  The 
truth  was  clear  to  all  of  us.  But  I  was  ready  to  sink 
into  the  earth  in  my  shock  and  horror.  I  was  about 
to  say  to  the  rector  that  he  must  prepare  to  follow  me, 
when  he  himself  spoke  to  me,  pale  and  trembling  like 
an  aspen  leaf.  "  Appearances  are  against  me,"  he  said, 
"  but  this  is  the  work  of  the  devil  and  his  angels.  There 
is  One  above  who  will  bring  my  innocence  to  light. 
Come,  judge,  I  will  await  my  fate  in  fetters.  Com- 
fort my  daughter.  Remember  that  she  is  your  betrothed 
bride." 

He  had  scarcely  uttered  the  words  when  I  heard  a 
scream  and  a  fall  behind  us.  It  was  my  beloved  who  lay 
unconscious  on  the  ground.  I  thought  at  first  that  she 
was  dead,  and  God  knows  I  wished  that  I  could  lie  there 
dead  beside  her.  I  raised  her  in  my  arms,  but  her  father 
took  her  from  me  and  carried  her  into  the  house.  I  was 
called  to  examine  the  wound  on  the  dead  man's  head.  The 
cut  was  not  deep,  but  it  had  evidently  fractured  the  skull, 
and  had  plainly  been  made  by  a  blow  from  a  spade  or  some 
similar  blunt  instrument. 

Then  we  all  entered  the  house.  My  beloved  had  re- 
vived again.  She  fell  on  my  neck  and  implored  me,  in 
the  name  of  God,  to  help  her  father  in  his  terrible  need. 
She  begged  me  by  the  memory  of  our  mutual  love  to  let 
her  follow  him  to  prison,  to  which  I  consented.  I  myself 
accompanied  him  to  Grenaa,  but  with  a  mournful  heart. 
None  of  us  spoke  a  word  on  the  sad  journey.  I  parted 
from  them  in  deep  distress.  The  corpse  was  laid  in  a  coffin 
and  will  be  buried  decently  to-morrow  in  Veilbye  church- 
yard. 

To-morrow  I  must  give  a  formal  hearing  to  the  wit- 
nesses. God  be  merciful  to  me,  unfortunate  man ! 

Would  that  I  had  never  obtained  this  position  for  which 
I — fool  that  I  am — strove  so  hard. 

290 


Steen  Steenscn  Blichcr 

As  the  venerable  man  of  God  was  brought  before  me,  fet- 
tered hand  and  foot,  I  felt  as  Pilate  must  have  felt  as 
they  brought  Christ  before  him.  It  was  to  me  as  if  my 
beloved — God  grant  her  comfort,  she  lies  ill  in  Grenaa — 
had  whispered  to  me,  "  Do  nothing  against  that  good 
man !  " 

Oh,  if  he  only  were  innocent,  but  I  see  no  hope ! 

The  three  first  witnesses  repeated  their  testimony  under 
oath,  word  for  word.  Then  came  statements  by  the  rector's 
two  farm  hands  and  the  dairy  maid.  The  men  had  been 
in  the  kitchen  on  the  fatal  day,  and  as  the  windows  were 
open  they  had  heard  the  quarrel  between  the  rector  and 
Niels.  As  the  widow  had  stated,  these  men  had  also  heard 
the  rector  say,  "I  will  strike  you  dead  at  my  feet !  "  They 
further  testified  that  the  rector  was  very  quick-tempered, 
and  that  when  angered  he  did  not  hesitate  to  strike  out 
with  whatever  came  into  his  hand.  He  had  struck  a  for- 
mer hand  once  with  a  heavy  maul. 

The  girl  testified  that  on  the  night  Jens  Larsen  claimed 
to  have  seen  the  rector  in  the  garden,  she  had  lain  awake 
and  heard  the  creaking  of  the  garden  door.  When  she 
looked  out  of  the  window  she  had  seen  the  rector  in  his 
dressing  gown  and  nightcap  go  into  the  garden.  She 
could  not  see  what  he  was  doing  there.  But  she  heard 
the  door  creak  again  about  an  hour  later. 

When  the  witnesses  had  been  heard,  I  asked  the  un- 
fortunate man  whether  he  would  make  a  confession,  or 
else,  if  he  had  anything  to  say  in  his  own  defense.  He 
crossed  his  hands  over  his  breast  and  said,  "  So  help  me 
God,  I  will  tell  the  truth.  I  have  nothing  more  to  say  than 
what  I  have  said  already.  I  struck  the  dead  man  with 
my  spade.  He  fell  down,  but  jumped  up  in  a  moment  and 
ran  away  from  the  garden  out  into  the  woods.  What  may 
have  happened  to  him  there,  or  how  he  came  to  be  buried 
in  my  garden,  this  I  do  not  know.  When  Jens  Larsen  and 
my  servant  testify  that  they  saw  me  at  night  in  the  gar- 
den, either  they  are  lying,  or  Satan  has  blinded  them.  I 

291 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

can  see  this — unhappy  man  that  I  am — that  I  have  no  one 
to  turn  to  for  help  here  on  earth.  Will  He  who  is  in 
heaven  he  silent  also,  then  must  I  bow  to  His  inscrutable 
will."  He  bowed  his  head  with  a  deep  sigh. 

Some  of  those  present  began  to  weep,  and  a  murmur 
arose  that  he  might  possibly  be  innocent.  But  this  was 
only  the  effect  of  the  momentary  sympathy  called  out  by 
his  attitude.  My  own  heart  indeed  spoke  for  him.  But 
the  judge's  heart  may  not  dare  to  dictate  to  his  brain  or 
to  his  conscience.  My  conviction  forced  me  to  declare  that 
the  rector  had  killed  Niels  Bruus,  but  certainly  without 
any  premeditation  or  intention  to  do  so.  It  is  true  that 
Niels  Bruus  had  often  been  heard  to  declare  that  he  would 
"  get  even  with  the  rector  when  the  latter  least  expected 
it."  But  it  is  not  known  that  he  had  fulfilled  his  threat  in 
any  way.  Every  man  clings  to  life  and  honor  as  long  as 
he  can.  Therefore  the  rector  persists  in  his  denial.  My 
poor,  dear  Mette !  She  is  lost  to  me  for  this  life  at  least, 
just  as  I  had  learned  to  love  her  so  dearly. 

I  have  had  a  hard  fight  to  fight  to-day.  As  I  sat  alone, 
pondering  over  this  terrible  affair  in  which  it  is  my  sad 
lot  to  have  to  give  judgment,  the  door  opened  and  the  rec- 
tor's daughter — I  may  no  longer  call  her  my  betrothed — 
rushed  in  and  threw  herself  at  my  feet.  I  raised  her  up, 
clasped  her  in  my  arms  and  we  wept  together  in  silence. 
I  was  first  to  control  myself.  "  I  know  what  you  would 
say,  dear  heart.  You  want  me  to  save  your  father.  Alas, 
God  help  us  poor  mortals,  I  cannot  do  it !  Tell  me,  dearest 
one,  tell  me  truly,  do  you  yourself  believe  your  father  to 
be  innocent  ?  " 

She  crossed  her  hands  on  her  heart  and  sobbed,  "  I  do 
not  know ! "  Then  she  burst  into  tears  again.  "  But  he 
did  not  bury  him  in  the  garden,"  she  continued  after  a 
few  moments.  "  The  man  may  have  died  in  the  woods 
from  the  blow.  That  may  have  happened " 

"  But,  dearest  heart,"  I  said,  "  Jens  Larsen  and  the  girl 
saw  your  father  in  the  garden  that  night." 

292 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

She  shook  her  head  slowly  and  answered,  "  The  evil  one 
blinded  their  eyes."  She  wept  bitterly  again. 

"  Tell  me,  beloved,"  she  began  again,  after  a  while,  "  tell 
me  frankly  this  much.  If  God  sends  us  no  further  enlight- 
enment in  this  unfortunate  affair,  what  sentence  must  you 
give  ?  " 

She  gazed  anxiously  at  me,  her  lips  trembling. 

"  If  I  did  not  believe,"  I  began  slowly,  "  that  anyone 
else  in  my  place  would  be  more  severe  than  I,  then  I  would 
gladly  give  up  my  position  at  once  and  refuse  to  speak  the 
verdict.  But  I  dare  not  conceal  from  you  that  the  mildest 
sentence  that  God,  our  king,  and  our  laws  demand  is,  a 
life  for  a  life." 

She  sank  to  her  knees,  then  sprang  up  again,  fell  back 
several  steps  as  if  afraid  of  me,  and  cried  out :  "  Would 
you  murder  my  father?  Would  you  murder  your  betrothed 
bride?  See  here!  See  this!"  She  came  nearer  and  held 
up  her  hand  with  my  ring  on  it  before  my  eyes.  "  Do  you 
see  this  betrothal  ring?  What  was  it  my  father  said  when 
you  put  this  ring  upon  my  finger?  '  I  have  given  my  maid 
unto  thy  bosom! '  But  you,  you  thrust  the  steel  deep  into 
my  bosom! " 

Alas,  every  one  of  her  words  cut  deep  into  my  own  heart. 
"  Dearest  love,"  I  cried,  "  do  not  speak  so.  You  thrust 
burning  irons  into  my  heart.  What  would  you  have  me 
do?  Acquit  him,  when  the  laws  of  God  and  man  con- 
demn?" 

She  was  silent,  sobbing  desperately. 

"  One  thing  I  can  do,"  I  continued.  "  If  it  be  wrong  may 
God  forgive  me.  If  the  trial  goes  on  to  an  end  his  life  is 
forfeited,  there  is  no  hope  except  in  flight.  If  you  can 
arrange  an  escape  I  will  close  my  eyes.  I  will  not  see  or 
hear  anything.  As  soon  as  your  father  was  imprisoned,  I 
wrote  to  your  brother  in  Copenhagen.  He  can  arrive  any 
moment  now.  Talk  to  him,  make  friends  with  the  jailer. 
If  you  lack  money,  all  I  have  is  yours." 

When  I  had  finished  her  face  flushed  with  joy,  and  she 
threw  her  arms  about  my  neck.  "  God  bless  you  for  these 

293 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

words.  Were  my  brother  but  here,  he  will  know  what  to 
do.  But  where  shall  we  go?"  her  tone  changed  suddenly 
and  her  arms  dropped.  "  Even  should  we  find  a  refuge 
in,  a  foreign  country  I  could  never  see  you  again !  "  Her 
tone  was  so  sad  that  my  heart  was  near  to  breaking. 

"  Beloved,"  I  exclaimed,  "  I  will  find  you  wherever  you 
may  hide  yourself!  Should  our  money  not  be  sufficient  to 
support  us  I  can  work  for  us  all.  I  have  learned  to  use 
the  ax  and  the  hoe." 

She  rejoiced  again  and  kissed  me  many  times.  We 
prayed  to  God  to  bless  our  undertaking  and  parted  with 
glad  hearts.  I  also  hoped  for  the  best.  Doubts  assail  me, 
but  God  will  find  for  us  some  light  in  this  darkness. 

Two  more  new  witnesses.  They  bring  nothing  good,  I 
fear,  for  Bruus  announced  them  with  an  expression  I  did 
not  like.  He  has  a  heart  of  stone,  which  can  feel  nothing 
but  malice  and  bitterness.  I  give  them  a  hearing  to-mor- 
row. I  feel  as  if  they  had  come  to  bear  witness  against 
me  myself.  May  God  strengthen  my  heart. 

All  is  over.    He  has  confessed. 

The  court  was  in  session  and  the  prisoner  had  been 
brought  in  to  hear  the  testimony  of  the  new  witnesses. 
These  men  stated  as  follows:  On  the  night  in  question 
they  were  walking  along  the  path  that  led  between  the 
woods  and  the  rectory  garden.  A  man  with  a  large  sack 
on  his  back  came  out  of  the  woods  and  walked  ahead  of 
them  toward  the  garden.  They  could  not  see  his  face, 
but  in  the  bright  moonlight  his  figure  was  clearly  visible, 
and  they  could  see  that  he  wore  a  loose  green  garment, 
like  a  dressing  gown,  and  a  white  nightcap.  The  man 
disappeared  through  an  opening  in  the  rectory  garden 
fence. 

Scarcely  had  the  first  witness  ended  his  statement  when 
the  rector  turned  ghastly  pale,  and  gasped,  in  a  voice  that 
could  scarcely  be  heard,  "  I  am  ill."  They  gave  him  a 
chair. 

294 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

Bruus  turned  to  his  neighbor  and  exclaimed  audibly, 
"  That  helped  the  rector's  memory." 

The  prisoner  did  not  hear  the  words,  but  motioned  to 
me  and  said,  "  Lead  me  back  to  my  prison.  I  will  talk 
to  you  there."  They  did  as  he  demanded. 

We  set  out  at  once  for  Grenaa.  The  rector  was  in  the 
wagon  with  the  jailer  and  the  gendarme,  and  I  rode  be- 
side them. 

When  the  door  of  the  cell  was  opened  my  beloved  was 
making  up  her  father's  bed,  and  over  a  chair  by  the  bed- 
side hung  the  fatal  green  dressing  gown.  My  dear  be- 
trothed greeted  me  with  a  cry  of  joy,  as  she  believed  that 
I  was  come  to  set  her  father  free.  She  hung  about  the  old 
man's  neck,  kissing  away  the  tears  that  rolled  unhindered 
down  his  cheeks.  I  had  not  the  heart  to  undeceive  her, 
and  I  sent  her  out  into  the  town  to  buy  some  things  for  us. 

"  Sit  down,  dear  friend,"  said  the  rector,  when  we  were 
alone.  He  seated  himself  on  the  bed,  staring  at  the  ground 
with  eyes  that  did  not  see.  Finally  he  turned  toward  me 
where  I  sat  trembling,  as  if  it  were  my  own  sentence  I  was 
to  hear,  as  in  a  manner  it  was.  "  I  am  a  great  sinner,"  he 
sighed,  "  God  only  knows  how  great.  His  punishment 
crushes  me  here  that  I  may  enter  into  His  mercy  here- 
after." 

He  grew  gradually  calmer  and  began: 

"  Since  my  childhood  I  have  been  hot-tempered  and  vio- 
lent. I  could  never  endure  contradiction,  and  was  always 
ready  to  give  a  blow.  But  I  have  seldom  let  the  sun  go 
down  upon  my  wrath,  and  I  have  never  borne  hatred  toward 
any  man.  As  a  half-grown  boy  I  killed  our  good,  kind 
watchdog  in  one  of  my  fits  of  rage  for  some  trifling  of- 
fense, and  I  have  never  ceased  to  regret  it.  Later,  as  a 
student  in  Leipzig,  I  let  myself  be  carried  away  sufficiently 
to  wound  seriously  my  adversary  in  one  of  our  fencing 
bouts.  A  merciful  fate  alone  saved  me  from  becoming  a 
murderer  then.  It  is  for  these  earlier  sins  that  I  am  now 
being  punished,  but  the  punishment  falls  doubly  hard,  now 
that  I  am  an  old  man,  a  priest,  a  servant  of  the  Lord  of 

295 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

Peace,  and  a  father!  Ah,  that  is  the  deepest  wound!  "  He 
sprang  up  and  wrung  his  hands  in  deep  despair.  I  would 
have  said  something  to  comfort  him,  but  I  could  find  no 
words  for  such  sorrow. 

When  he  had  controlled  himself  somewhat  he  sat  down 
again  and  continued :  "  To  you,  once  my  friend  and  now 
my  judge,  I  will  confess  this  crime,  which  it  seems  beyond 
a  doubt  that  I  have  committed,  although  I  am  not  conscious 
of  having  done  so."  (I  was  startled  at  this,  as  I  had  ex- 
pected a  remorseful  confession.)  "  Listen  well  to  what 
I  shall  now  tell  you.  That  I  struck  the  unfortunate  man 
with  the  spade,  that  he  fell  down  and  then  ran  away,  this 
is  all  that  I  know  with  full  consciousness.  .  .  .  What  fol- 
lowed then?  Four  witnesses  have  seen  that  I  fetched 
the  body  and  buried  it  in  my  garden — and  now  at  last 
I  am  forced  to  believe  that  it  must  be  true.  These  are  my 
reasons  for  the  belief.  "  Three  or  four  times  in  my  life  I 
have  walked  in  my  sleep.  The  last  time — it  may  have  been 
nine  or  ten  years  ago— I  was  to  have  held  a  funeral  service 
on  the  following  day,  over  the  body  of  a  man  who  had 
died  a  sudden  and  terrible  death.  I  could  not  find  a  suit- 
able text,  until  suddenly  there  came  to  me  the  words  of  an 
old  Greek  philosopher,  '  Call  no  man  fortunate  until  his 
death/  It  was  in  my  mind  that  the  same  idea  was  ex- 
pressed in  different  words  in  the  Holy  Scriptures.  I  sought 
and  sought,  but  could  not  find  it.  At  last  I  went  to  bed 
much  fatigued,  and  slept  soundly.  Next  morning,  when 
I  sat  down  at  my  desk,  to  my  great  astonishment  I  saw 
there  a  piece  of  paper,  on  which  was  written,  (  Call  no  man 
happy  until  his  end  hath  come '  (Sirach  xi.  34),  and  fol- 
lowing it  was  a  funeral  sermon,  short,  but  as  good  in 
construction  as  any  I  have  ever  written.  And  all  this  was 
in  my  own  handwriting.  It  was  quite  out  of  the  question 
that  anyone  could  have  entered  the  room  during  the  night, 
as  I  had  locked  it  myself,  and  it  had  not  been  opened  until 
I  entered  next  day.  I  knew  what  had  happened,  as  I  could 
remember  one  or  two  such  occurrences  in  my  life  before. 

"  Therefore,  dear  friend,  when  the  last  witnesses  gave 
296 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

their  testimony  to-day,  I  suddenly  remembered  my  sleep- 
walking exploits,  and  I  also  remembered,  what  had  slipped 
my  mind  before,  that  on  the  morning  after  the  night  the 
body  was  buried  I  had  found  my  dressing  gown  in  the 
hall  outside  of  my  bedroom.  This  had  surprised  me,  as  I 
always  hung  it  over  a  chair  near  my  bed.  The  unfortu- 
nate victim  of  my  violence  must  have  died  in  the  woods 
from  his  wound,  and  in  my  dream  consciousness  I  must 
have  seen  this  and  gone  to  fetch  the  body.  It  must  be  so. 
I  know  no  other  explanation.  God  have  mercy  on  my  sin- 
ful soul."  He  was  silent  again,  covering  his  face  with  his 
hands  and  weeping  bitterly. 

I  was  struck  dumb  with  astonishment  and  uncertainty. 
I  had  always  suspected  that  the  victim  had  died  on  the 
spot  where  he  was  buried,  although  I  could  not  quite  un- 
derstand how  the  rector  had  managed  to  bury  the  body 
by  day  without  being  seen.  But  I  thought  that  he  might 
have  covered  it  lightly  with  earth  and  twigs  and  finished 
his  work  at  night.  He  was  a  man  of  sufficient  strength  of 
mind  to  have  done  this.  When  the  latest  witnesses  were 
telling  their  story,  I  noted  the  possible  contradiction,  and 
hoped  it  might  prove  a  loophole  of  escape.  But,  alas,  it 
was  all  only  too  true,  and  the  guilt  of  the  rector  proven 
beyond  a  doubt.  It  was  not  at  all  impossible  for  a  man 
to  do  such  things  in  his  sleep.  Just  as  it  was  quite  possible 
that  a  man  with  a  fractured  skull  could  run  some  distance 
before  he  fell  to  die.  The  rector's  story  bore  the  stamp  of 
truth,  although  the  doubt  will  come  that  he  desired  thus  to 
save  a  shred  of  honor  for  his  name. 

The  prisoner  walked  up  and  down  the  room  several 
times,  then  stopping  before  me  he  said  gravely:  "You 
have  now  heard  my  confession,  here  in  my  prison  walls. 
It  is  your  mouth  that  must  speak  my  sentence.  But  what 
says  your  heart  ?  " 

I  could  scarcely  utter  the  words,  "  My  heart  suffers  be- 
yond expression.  I  would  willingly  see  it  break  if  I  could 
but  save  you  from  a  shameful  death."  (I  dared  not  mention 
to  him  my  last  hope  of  escape  in  flight.) 

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Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

"  That  is  impossible,"  he  answered.  "  My  life  is  forfeited. 
My  death  is  just,  and  shall  serve  as  a  warning  to  others. 
But  promise  me  that  you  will  not  desert  my  poor  daughter. 
I  had  thought  to  lay  her  in  your  arms  " — tears  choked 
his  voice — "  but,  alas,  that  fond  hope  is  vanished.  You  can- 
not marry  the  daughter  of  a  sentenced  murderer.  But 
promise  me  that  you  will  watch  over  her  as  her  second 
father."  In  deep  sorrow  and  in  tears  I  held  his  hand  in 
mine.  "  Have  you  any  news  from  my  son  ?  "  he  began 
again.  "  I  hope  it  will  be  possible  to  keep  him  in  igno- 
rance of  this  terrible  affair  until — until  it  is  all  over.  I 
could  not  bear  to  see  him  now.  And  now,  dear  friend, 
let  us  part,  not  to  meet  again  except  in  the  hall  of  justice. 
Grant  me  of  your  friendship  one  last  service,  let  it  end 
soon.  I  long  for  death.  Go  now,  my  kind,  sympathetic 
judge.  Send  for  me  to-morrow  to  speak  my  sentence,  and 
send  to-day  for  my  brother  in  God,  the  pastor  in  Aalso. 
He  shall  prepare  me  for  death.  God  be  with  you." 

He  gave  me  his  hand  with  his  eyes  averted.  I  staggered 
from  the  prison,  hardly  conscious  of  what  I  was  doing.  I 
would  have  ridden  home  without  seeing  his  daughter  had 
she  not  met  me  by  the  prison  door.  She  must  have  seen  the 
truth  in  my  face,  for  she  paled  and  caught  at  my  arm.  She 
gazed  at  me  with  her  soul  in  her  eyes,  but  could  not  speak, 
"  Flee !  Save  your  father  in  flight !  "  was  all  I  could  say. 

I  set  spurs  to  my  horse  and  rode  home  somehow. 

To-morrow,  then! 

The  sentence  is  spoken. 

The  accused  was  calmer  than  the  judge.  All  those  pres- 
ent, except  his  bitter  enemy,  were  affected  almost  to  tears. 
Some  whispered  that  the  punishment  was  too  severe. 

May  God  be  a  milder  judge  to  me  than  I,  poor  sinner,, 
am  forced  to  be  to  my  fellow  men. 

She  has  been  here.  She  found  me  ill  in  bed.  There 
is  no  escape  possible.  He  will  not  flee.  Everything  was 
arranged  and  the  jailer  was  ready  to  help.  But  he  re- 

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Stecn  Steensen  Blicher 

fuses,  he  longs  for  death.  God  be  merciful  to  the  poor  girl. 
How  will  she  survive  the  terrible  day?  I  am  ill  in  body 
and  soul,  I  can  neither  aid  nor  comfort  her.  There  is  no 
word  from  the  brother. 

I  feel  that  I  am  near  death  myself,  as  near  perhaps  as  he 
is,  whom  I  sent  to  his  doom.  Farewell,  my  own  beloved 
bride.  .  .  .  What  will  she  do?  she  is  so  strangely  calm — 
the  calm  of  wordless  despair.  Her  brother  has  not  yet 
come,  and  to-morrow — on  the  Ravenshill ! 

Here  the  diary  of  Erik  Sorensen  stopped  suddenly.  What 
followed  can  be  learned  from,,  the  written  and  witnessed 
statements  of  the  pastor  of  Aalso,  the  neighboring  parish 
to  Veilbye. 

II 

IT  was  during  the  seventeenth  year  of  my  term  of  office 
that  the  terrible  event  happened  in  the  neighborhood  which 
filled  all  who  heard  of  it  with  shock  and  horror,  and  brought 
shame  and  disgrace  upon  our  holy  calling.  The  venerable 
Soren  Quist,  Rector  of  Veilbye,  killed  his  servant  in  a  fit 
of  rage  and  buried  the  body  in  his  garden. 

'  He  was  found  guilty  at  the  official  trial,  through  the 
testimony  of  many  witnesses,  as  well  as  through  his  own 
confession.  He  was  condemned  to  death,  and  the  sentence 
was  carried  out  in  the  presence  of  several  thousand  people 
on  the  little  hill  known  as  Ravenshill,  here  in  the  field  of 
Aalso. 

The  condemned  man  had  asked  that  I  might  visit  him  in 
his  prison.  I  must  state  that  I  have  never  given  the  holy 
sacrament  to  a  better  prepared  or  more  truly  repentant 
Christian.  He  was  calm  to  the  last,  full  of  remorse  for 
his  great  sin.  On  the  field  of  death  he  spoke  to  the  people 
in  words  of  great  wisdom  and  power,  preaching  to  the  text 
from  the  Lamentations  of  Jeremiah,  chap,  ii.,  verse  6:  "He 
hath  despised  the  priest  in  the  indignation  of  his  anger." 
He  spoke  of  his  violence  and  of  its  terrible  results,  and  of 

299 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

his  deep  remorse.  He  exhorted  his  hearers  to  let  his  sin 
and  his  fate  be  an  example  to  them,  and  a  warning  not 
to  give  way  to  anger.  Then  he  commended  his  soul  to 
the  Lord,  removed  his  upper  garments,  bound  up  his  eyes 
with  his  own  hand,  then  folded  his  hands  in  prayer.  When 
I  had  spoken  the  words,  "  Brother,  be  of  good  cheer.  This 
day  shalt  thou  be  with  thy  Saviour  in  Paradise,"  his  head 
fell  by  the  ax. 

The  one  thing  that  made  death  bitter  for  him  was  the 
thought  of  his  children.  The  son  had  been  sent  for  from 
Copenhagen,  but  as  we  afterwards  learned,  he  had  been 
absent  from  the  city,  and  therefore  did  not  arrive  until 
shortly  after  his  father  had  paid  the  penalty  for  his  crime. 

I  took  the  daughter  into  my  home,  where  she  was 
brought,  half  fainting,  after  they  had  led  her  father  from 
the  prison.  She  had  been  tending  him  lovingly  all  the  days 
of  his  trial.  What  made  even  greater  sorrow  for  the  poor 
girl,  and  for  the  district  judge  who  spoke  the  sentence, 
was  that  these  two  young  people  had  solemnly  plighted 
their  troth  but  a  few  short  weeks  before,  in  the  rectory 
of  Veilbye.  The  son  arrived  just  as  the  body  of  the  exe- 
cuted criminal  was  brought  into  my  house.  It  had  been 
permitted  to  us  to  bury  the  body  with  Christian  rites,  if 
we  could  do  it  in  secret.  The  young  man  threw  himself 
over  the  lifeless  body.  Then,  clasping  his  sister  in  his 
arms,  the  two  wept  together  in  silence  for  some  while. 
At  midnight  we  held  a  quiet  service  over  the  remains  of  the 
Rector  of  Veilbye,  and  the  body  was  buried  near  the  door 
of  Aalso  church.  A  simple  stone,  upon  which  I  have  carved 
a  cross,  still  stands  to  remind  the  passer-by  of  the  sin  of  a 
most  unfortunate  man. 

The  next  morning  his  two  children  had  disappeared. 
They  have  never  been  heard  of  since.  God  knows  to  what 
far-away  corner  of  the  world  they  have  fled,  to  hide  their 
shame  and  their  sorrow.  The  district  judge  is  very  ill, 
and  it  is  not  believed  that  he  will  recover. 

May  God  deal  with  us  all  after  His  wisdom  and  His 
mercy ! 

300 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

0  Lord,  inscrutable  are  thy  ways ! 

In  the  thirty-eighth  year  of  my  service,  and  twenty-one 
years  after  my  unfortunate  brother  in  office,  the  Rector  of 
Veilbye  had  been  beheaded  for  the  murder  of  his  servant, 
it  happened  one  day  that  a  beggar  came  to  my  door.  He 
was  an  elderly  man,  with  gray  hair,  and  walked  with  a 
crutch.  He  looked  sad  and  needy.  None  of  the  servants 
were  about,  so  I  myself  went  into  the  kitchen  and  gave 
him  a  piece  of  bread.  I  asked  him  where  he  came  from. 
He  sighed  and  answered: 

"  From  nowhere  in  particular." 

Then  I  asked  him  his  name.  He  sighed  still  deeper, 
looked  about  him  as  if  in  fear,  and  said,  "  They  once  called 
me  Niels  Bruus." 

1  was  startled,  and  said,  "  God  have  mercy  on  us !    That 
is  a  bad  name.    That  is  the  name  of  a  man  who  was  killed 
many  years  back." 

Whereat  the  man  sighed  still  deeper  and  replied :  "  It 
would  have  been  better  for  me  had  I  died  then.  It  has 
gone  ill  with  me  since  I  left  the  country." 

At  this  the  hair  rose  on  my  head,  and  I  trembled  in  every 
limb.  For  it  seemed  to  me  that  I  could  recognize  him, 
and  also  it  seemed  to  me  that  I  saw  Morten  Bruus  before 
me  in  the  flesh,  and  yet  I  had  laid  the  earth  over  him  three 
years  before.  I  stepped  back  and  made  the  sign  of  the 
cross,  for  verily  I  thought  it  was  a  ghost  I  saw  before  me. 

But  the  man  sat  down  in  the  chimney  corner  and  con- 
tinued to  speak.  "  Reverend  father,  they  tell  me  my 
brother  Morten  is  dead.  I  have  been  to  Ingvorstrup,  but 
the  new  owner  chased  me  away.  Is  my  old  master,  the 
Rector  of  Veilbye,  still  alive  ?  "  Then  it  was  that  the  scales 
fell  from  my  eyes  and  I  saw  into  the  very  truth  of  this 
whole  terrible  affair.  But  the  shock  stunned  me  so  that 
I  could  not  speak.  The  man  bit  into  his  bread  greedily 
and  went  on.  "  Yes,  that  was  all  Brother  Morten's  fault. 
Did  the  old  rector  have  much  trouble  about  it?" 

"  Niels !  Niels !  "  I  cried  from  out  the  horror  of  my  soul, 
"  you  have  a  monstrous  black  sin  upon  your  conscience ! 

301 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

For  your  sake  that  unfortunate  man  fell  by  the  ax  of  the 
executioner!  " 

The  bread  and  the  crutch  fell  from  his  hand,  and  he  him- 
self was  near  to  falling  into  the  fire.  "  May  God  forgive 
you,  Morten!"  he  groaned.  "God  knows  I  didn't  mean 
anything  like  that.  May  my  sin  be  forgiven  me!  But 
surely  you  only  mean  to  frighten  me!  I  come  from  far 
away,  and  have  heard  nothing.  No  one  but  you,  reverend 
father,  has  recognized  me.  I  have  told  my  name  to  no 
one.  When  I  asked  them  in  Veilbye  if  the  rector  was  still 
there,  they  said  that  he  was." 

"  That  is  the  new  rector,"  I  replied.  "  Not  he  whom  you 
and  your  sinful  brother  have  slain." 

He  wrung  his  hands  and  cried  aloud,  and  then  I  knew 
that  he  had  been  but  a  tool  in  the  hands  of  that  devil, 
Morten.  Therefore  I  set  to  work  to  comfort  him,  and  took 
him  into  my  study  that  he  might  calm  himself  sufficiently 
to  tell  me  the  detail  of  this  Satan's  work. 

This  was  the  story  as  he  tells  it :  His  brother  Morten 
— truly  a  son  of  Belial — cherished  a  deadly  hatred  to- 
ward pastor  Soren  Quist  since  the  day  the  latter  had 
refused  him  the  hand  of  his  daughter.  As  soon  as  he  heard 
that  the  pastor's  coachman  had  left  him,  he  persuaded 
Niels  to  take  the  place. 

"  Watch  your  chance  well,"  he  had  said,  "  we'll  play  the 
black  coat  a  trick  some  day,  and  you  will  be  no  loser  by  it." 

Niels,  who  was  rough  and  defiant  by  nature,  soon  came 
to  a  quarrel  with  his  master,  and  when  he  had  received 
his  first  chastisement,  he  ran  at  once  to  Ingvorstrup  to 
report  it.  "  Let  him  strike  you  just  once  again,"  said  Mor- 
ten. "  Then  come  to  me,  and  we  will  pay  him  for  it." 

Then  came  the  quarrel  in  the  garden,  and  Niels  ran  off 
to  Ingvorstrup.  He  met  his  brother  in  the  woods  and  told 
him  what  had  occurred. 

"  Did  anyone  see  you  on  the  way  here?"  asked  Morten. 

Niels  thought  not.  "Good,"  said  Morten;  "now  we'll 
give  him  a  fright  that  he  will  not  forget  for  a  week 
or  so." 

302 


Steen  Steensen  Blicher 

He  led  Niels  carefully  to  the  house,  and  kept  him  hidden 
there  the  rest  of  the  day.  When  all  the  household  else  had 
gone  to  sleep  the  two  brothers  crept  out,  and  went  to  a 
field  where  several  days  before  they  had  buried  the  body 
of  a  man  of  about  Niel's  age,  size,  and  general  appearance. 
(He  had  hanged  himself,  some  said  because  of  ill-treatment 
from  Morten,  in  whose  service  he  was.  Others  said  it  was 
because  of  unhappy  love.)  They  dug  up  the  corpse,  al- 
though Niels  did  not  like  the  work,  and  protested.  But 
Morten  was  the  stronger,  and  Niels  had  to  do  as  he  was 
ordered.  They  carried  the  body  back  with  them  into  the 
house. 

Then  Niels  was  ordered  to  take  off  all  his  clothes,  piece 
by  piece,  even  to  his  shirt,  and  dress  the  dead  man  in  them. 
Even  his  leaden  earring,  which  he  had  worn  for  many 
years,  was  put  in  the  ear  of  the  corpse.  After  this  was 
done,  Morten  took  a  spade  and  gave  the  head  of  the  corpse 
two  crashing  blows,  one  over  the  nose,  the  other  on  the 
temple.  The  body  was  hidden  in  a  sack  and  kept  in  the 
house  during  the  next  day.  At  night  the  day  following, 
they  carried  it  out  to  the  wood  near  Veilbye. 

Several  times  Niels  had  asked  of  his  brother  what  all 
this  preparation  boded.  But  Morten  answered  only,  "  That 
is  my  affair.  Do  as  I  tell  you,  and  don't  ask  questions." 

When  they  neared  the  edge  of  the  wood  by  Veilbye, 
Morten  said,  "  Now  fetch  me  one  of  the  coats  the  pastor 
wears  most.  If  you  can,  get  the  green  dressing  gown  I 
have  often  seen  him  wear  mornings." 

"  I  don't  dare,"  said  Niels,  "  he  keeps  it  in  his  bed  cham- 
ber." 

"  Well,  then,  I'll  dare  it  myself,"  said  Morten.  "  And 
now,  go  your  way,  and  never  show  yourself  here  again. 
Here  is  a  bag  with  one  hundred  thalers.  They  will  last 
you  until  you  can  take  service  somewhere  in  another  coun- 
try. Go  where  no  one  has  ever  seen  you,  and  take  another 
name.  Never  come  back  to  Denmark  again.  Travel  by 
night,  and  hide  in  the  woods  by  day  until  you  are  well  away 
from  here.  Here  are  provisions  enough  to  last  you  for 

303 


Scandinavian  Mystery  Stories 

several  days.  And  remember,  never  show  yourself  here 
again,  as  you  value  your  life." 

Niels  obeyed,  and  has  never  seen  his  brother  since  that 
day.  He  had  had  much  trouble,  had  been  a  soldier  and  lost 
his  health  in  the  war,  and  finally,  after  great  trials  and 
sufferings,  had  managed  to  get  back  to  the  land  of  his 
birth.  This  was  the  story  as  told  me  by  the  miserable  man, 
and  I  could  not  doubt  its  truth. 

It  was  now  only  too  clear  to  me  that  my  unfortunate 
brother  in  the  Lord  had  fallen  a  victim  to  the  hatred  of 
his  fiendish  enemy,  to  the  delusion  of  his  judge  and  the 
witnesses,  and  to  his  own  credulous  imagination. 

Oh,  what  is  man  that  he  shall  dare  to  sit  in  judgment 
over  his  fellows!  God  alone  is  the  Judge.  He  who  gives 
life  may  alone  give  death! 

I  did  not  feel  it  my  duty  to  give  official  information 
against  this  crushed  and  broken  sinner,  particularly  as 
the  district  judge  is  still  alive,  and  it  would  have  been 
cruelty  to  let  him  know  of  his  terrible  error. 

Instead,  I  gave  what  comfort  my  office  permitted  to  the 
poor  man,  and  recommended  him  not  to  reveal  his  name 
or  tell  his  story  to  anyone  in  the  district.  On  these  con- 
ditions I  would  give  him  a  home  until  I  could  arrange  for 
a  permanent  refuge  for  him  in  my  brother's  house,  a  good 
distance  from  these  parts. 

The  day  following  was  a  Sunday.  When  I  returned  from 
evening  service  at  my  branch  parish,  the  beggar  had  dis- 
appeared. But  by  the  evening  of  the  next  day  the  story 
was  known  throughout  the  neighborhood. 

Goaded  by  the  pangs  of  conscience,  Niels  had  gone  to 
Rosmer  and  made  himself  known  to  the  judge  as  the  true 
Niels  Bruus.  Upon  the  hearing  of  the  terrible  truth,  the 
judge  was  taken  with  a  stroke  and  died  before  the  week 
was  out.  But  on  Tuesday  morning  they  found  Niels  Bruus 
dead  on  the  grave  of  the  late  rector  Soren  Quist  of  Veilbye, 
by  the  door  of  Aalso  church. 


304 


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